Epulis Fissuratum 

Updated: Nov 12, 2021
Author: Diane Stern, DDS; Chief Editor: Jeff Burgess, DDS, MSD 

Overview

Practice Essentials

Epulis fissuratum is a mucosal hyperplasia that results from chronic low-grade trauma induced by a denture flange.[1]  (See the image below.) Epulis fissuratum is analogous to acanthoma fissuratum of skin.

An epulis fissuratum in the anterior part of the m An epulis fissuratum in the anterior part of the mandible shows a central groove where the denture flange rests. Note the inflammatory erythema. The surface of the lesion is usually smooth as shown in the image.

Pathophysiology

Epulis fissuratum arises in association with denture flanges. Consequently, epulis fissuratum is usually observed in the maxillary or mandibular vestibule.

The cause of epulis fissuratum is chronic low-grade irritation from an ill-fitting denture. Frequently, this is the consequence of resorption of the alveolar ridge so that the denture moves further into the vestibular mucosa, creating an inflammatory fibrous hyperplasia that proliferates over the flange.[2] ​

Epidemiology

A study on the prevalence of oral lesions among 210 denture wearers found that oral lesions were found in 20.5% of the cases and that denture-induced fibrous hyperplasia was the most common type of lesion detected (41.9%).[3]

Sex- and age-related demographics

Most studies indicate a clear predilection for epulis fissuratum in females.[4] Possible atrophic epithelial changes secondary to menopause may influence an increased reaction to trauma in older females.

Epulis fissuratum occurs in greatest numbers in the fifth, sixth, and seventh decades, but it can be observed at almost any age. Epulis fissuratum has been described in children. The fact that the lesions are related to denture wear and chronicity of an irritative process explains the higher incidence in older individuals.

Prognosis

With correction of the poorly fitting denture, the prognosis for epulis fissuratum is excellent.

Morbidity/mortality

Significant morbidity does not occur with epulis fissuratum.

Patient Education

Instruct the patient that regular dental care is necessary and that the oral tissues are changing constantly. This means that dentures are not permanent and need adjustments over time.

 

Presentation

History

Epulis fissuratum develops slowly over a prolonged period of time in patients with ill-fitting dentures. It is associated with a denture flange that may be either a full or partial denture.[2]

Typically, patients with epulis fissuratum are asymptomatic.[5]

Physical Examination

Examination of an epulis fissuratum patient typically reveals folds of hyperplastic mucosa, which encompass the border of the denture flange. The edge of the denture usually fits in a groove between the folds. The lesions are most frequently observed at the facial aspect of the denture. The occurrence of this on the lingual surface is unusual. They are more often observed in the anterior portion of the jaws; however, a predilection for the maxilla or the mandible does not seem to exist.

The surface of the epulis fissuratum mass tends to be smooth; however, occasionally, it is ulcerated (most often within the depth of the groove) or papillary.

The size of the epulis fissuratum lesion is variable; some lesions are small, but they can be extensive and involve the entire length of the vestibule.[6]

Although frequently of normal mucosal color, erythema may be associated with inflammation. Some lesions have a more pyogenic granuloma –like appearance because of capillary proliferation.

An epulis fissuratum in the anterior part of the m An epulis fissuratum in the anterior part of the mandible shows a central groove where the denture flange rests. Note the inflammatory erythema. The surface of the lesion is usually smooth as shown in the image.
 

DDx

 

Workup

Procedures

Surgically excise and microscopically examine the epulis fissuratum.

Histologic Findings

Epulis fissuratum is a hyperplastic reactive lesion, often with inflammatory and reparative phases. The histologic picture can be variable.[7] Most frequently, a dense fibrous hyperplasia occurs, often with varying degrees of inflammation and vascularity. Because capillary proliferation is considerable, an overlap with pyogenic granuloma occurs. Mucous glands are often present in the specimen and may show a chronic sialadenitis. Occasionally, the glands may have an associated lymphoid hyperplasia and papillary ductal hyperplasia. The epithelium may be atrophic or hyperplastic and occasionally shows a pseudoepitheliomatous hyperplasia. Ulceration can occur. Infrequently, chondroid or osseous metaplasia can develop within the mass.

A view of a whole mount of a tissue section taken A view of a whole mount of a tissue section taken from an epulis fissuratum shows that it is essentially a fibrous hyperplasia. The central groove can be observed, and, in this patient, papillary hyperplasia is present in some areas.
 

Treatment

Surgical Care

Surgically excise the epulis fissuratum because even removal of the offending stimulus (ie, denture) will not result in complete resolution. In addition, correct the denture; otherwise, the lesion will recur. Either make a new denture or reline the old denture. The use of laser therapy is discussed in recent studies.[8, 9, 10, 11]  Vyasarayani et al reported the use of liquid nitrogen cryosurgery to treat epulis fissuratum in a 71-year-old man who was receiving anticoagulant therapy.[12]

Consultations

Consultations are as follows:

  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon for excision

  • General dentist or prosthodontist for correction of the denture

 

Follow-up

Deterrence/Prevention

Regular dental care can prevent epulis fissuratum. Patients who wear dentures frequently believe that they no longer require care, and, under these circumstances, dentures lose their correct fit and become the source of irritation.