Heeje Lee, DDS



A removable denture for a rat: a breakthrough for
denture stomatitis research 

Learning objectives:

1. Learn how the removable intraoral devices were developed for the rats.

2. Review the results from the in vivo studies on denture stomatitis.

3. Discuss directions of future research and the roles of prosthodontists involved. 


Denture stomatitis (DS) is a fungal infection characterized by inflammation of the oral mucosa in direct contact with the denture and affects up to 50% of denture wearers. Despite the prevalence, very little is known about the role of fungal or host factors that contribute to pathogenesis. Recently, a novel intraoral denture system for rodent research was developed. This denture system consists of custom-fitted fixed and removable parts to allow repeated sampling and longitudinal studies. Using this system, development of a clinically relevant animal model of DS was achieved. Rats fitted with the intraoral denture system maintained body weight and normal activity with the device maintaining integrity and durability for upwards of 8 weeks. Histological analysis of palate tissue demonstrated progressively increasing inflammatory cell recruitment throughout the time course of the infection. Palatal biofilm formation was commensurate with development of palatal erythema, which suggests a role for biofilm in the inflammatory response. This newly engineered inexpensive intraoral removable denture system for rodents can be utilized in numerous oral health research applications, including denture-associated infections, biofilms and a variety of biomaterial applications.


Dr. Heeje Lee is originally from Seoul, South Korea. He received his D.D.S. degree from the Yonsei University College of Dentistry in 1997, and a Certificate in Endodontics from the Samsung Medical Center in 2000. He then worked at the Police Force General Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 3 years. He volunteered for this position which was provided by South Korean government's overseas aid program. In 2004, he moved to the U.S. to study Prosthodontics for his second specialty at the Eastman Dental Center, Rochester, NY. After graduating with the honor of the NYSDF Deans Award in 2007, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Prosthodontics, LSUHSC School of Dentistry, New Orleans, LA. Currently, Dr. Lee is the owner of the Evergreen Dental Oral Rehabilitation Center at Coppell, TX. While working in the private practice area, Dr. Lee is still actively involved in academic activities as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester Eastman Institute for Oral Health, an American Dental Association Evidence Reviewer, a Member of Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, and the Chair of the Public Education Committee in the American Prosthodontic Society. He has published numerous scientific articles in peer review dental journals and has given lectures both nationally and internationally.