Many lesions are picked up visually without the need for x-rays, but are not always noticed by the individual who has them. And some lesions are not noticed until they cause pain and have become much more complex to treat. This is often the case for people with complete dentures. As tissues change over time, dentures can start to dig in and cause sores. As this is a very gradual change, there often is no pain and only found through regular checkups. As some denture sores and oral cancers can look very similar, it is extra important to have these checked and treated. So if you have complete dentures and haven’t seen a dentist in a while, contact us today to set up an appointment (Please note, denturists are not dentists and are not trained in cancer screening).
The following case examples are perfect examples of why individuals with complete dentures should still go for annual checkups with their dentist.

Epulis Fissuratum

The following individual came in because her top denture was not fitting properly. The denture was getting loose and not staying in place anymore, but was not causing any pain. Upon examination, it was revealed the loose denture had been digging into the soft tissue resulting in an ulcer (white part in the center) with overgrown tissue along its border (bulge between white spot and mirror). At this stage, the treatment required was a denture adjustment, and the fabrication of a new denture once the area healed (roughly 2 months). Fortunately, this case was caught early enough that adjusting the denture allowed healing to occur. If this was allowed to progress, this could have required corrective surgery as well.
In some cases, sores like this could be cancerous. One of the main ways of differentiating between cancer and a denture sore is the rate of growth and response to denture adjustments. Oral cancer is generally very aggressive and fast-growing and will not respond to adjustments in the denture. Denture sores, on the other hand, will have a trigger spot from the denture and develop to this size much more slowly. With regular checkups, the rate of growth can be determined to help aid in diagnosis and appropriate treatment, a delay in treatment of oral cancer can often have disastrous results.

Ulcer With Bone Exposure

Dentures can cause sores that stimulate excess tissue growth, like the Epulis Fissuratum, or they can cause sores that cause tissue degradation as seen in this case. This individual had a denture that was digging into the tissue along the inside of his lower jaw (besides his tongue). Unfortunately, this sore was allowed to sit too long and what started as a mild sore spot turned into a large area of exposed bone. This can be very painful, prone to infection, and can be very complex and costly to repair. Fortunately for this gentleman, the area caused almost no pain at all and he continued to come for regular appointments which allowed this to be detected and treated. With just one adjustment of the denture, salt water rinses, minimizing the use of the denture, and about a month of healing, all the skin grew back for complete healing. All of this could have been avoided with a simple adjustment at the first signs of discomfort.