Angular Chelitis - is inflammation of one, or more commonly both, of the corners of the mouth. The inflammation is caused by yeast development in the area. The condition may show itself as deep cracks or splits in the lips, and the inflamed area may extend onto the skin of the face. In severe cases, the splits can bleed when the mouth is opened and shallow ulcers or a crust may form. It is a fungal disease, which is difficult to treat long term, and commonly recurs.
Angular chelitis has long been a curious disorder to treat. It is difficult to know the cause of the angular chelitis from individual to individual. The usual culprits include poor diet and nutrition (specifically Zinc or Vitamin B2 deficiencies) and certain medications. Angular chelitis can also be caused by the loss of vertical dimension of the teeth. Vertical dimension refers to the height of our teeth, which over time becomes less and less as our teeth wear or our dentures break down. This in combination with the aging process can lead to loose flabby skin at the corners of the mouth. These folds cause a warm, moist, dark environment in which, yeast flourishes.
Solutions For Angular Chelitis
There have been many home remedies tried in treating angular chelitis. These include vitamin regimens, tea tree oils, fish oil, and even a combination of grapefruit and vodka. None of these angular chelitis treatments work. The best approach is to eliminate the source of the issue. Dentists have long known that the loss in vertical dimension coupled with the flabby skin at the sides of the mouth are the triggers in most cases of angular chelitis. Angular Chelitis treatments include:
-Topical Antibiotic/Antifungal Treatment – monostat topical cream is a very effective solution. It needs to be applied externally only, and throughout the day for 2-3 weeks. In many cases this is a temporary solution at best as the root cause of the problem, the mouth folds in the corners, has not been solved. As the patient loses more tooth height, the folds of skin will increase in depth causing the angular chelitis to become harder and harder to treat.
-Increase Vertical Dimension – Once the yeast has been treated and eliminated, the only way to keep it from returning is to address the corner folds. This can be done in a variety of ways but the goal is to open the bite, or increase tooth height, to remove or lessen the presence of the folds around the mouth. This can be achieved through the fabrication of a new denture (for denture wearers) or through the use of crowns to modify the bite.
-Use of Dermal Fillers – Luckily, we have a third option which many prefer. It includes the use of dermal fillers (such as Restylane and Juvederm) to replace lost volume in the tissues of the lower face. These dermal fillers are generally used in combination with Botox to relax the muscles and subsequently smooth out the wrinkles surrounding the mouth.
Angular Chelitis Conclusion
Angular chelitis can be a long term problem if not treated correctly. It can become quite uncomfortable and unsightly. Some may only be able to utilize the topical antifungal treatment, while others may be able to remove the problem permanently by increasing dental height with the aforementioned dental treatments. Fortunately, we have options at our disposal to treat this condition. You no longer need to be frustrated or embarrassed by this infection. See your dentist to see which treatment is best for you!