Oral candidiasis

Your oral cavity is home to various organisms which can both damage and aid in maintenance of your oral health. These organisms are called commensal flora (which simply means a normal part of your oral cavity). Candidia species is one such fungi. However, in some individuals, these fungi may multiply and cause an infection known as candidiasis. Oral candidiasis is also known as oral thrush

Although candidiasis is often seen in weakened immune systems, this infection can also be seen in healthy adults. Here are a few common conditions where candidia infection is commonly seen:

  • Denture wearers.
  • Long term hospitalization.
  • Those on steroid therapy, antidepressant and blood pressure medications.
  • Long term antibiotic usage.
  • Cancer patients.
  • Smokers.
  • Poor diabetic control.
  • Decreased saliva in your mouth.
  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • Small children or old patients .

Most often candida infections are completely asymptomatic in nature. They can be associated with:

  • Burning/tingling sensation.
  • Itchiness in region.
  • Change in taste.

You should look for the following appearances in your mouth:

  • Red / swollen areas; especially in region covered by dentures.
  • Small white spots/ granular appearances often multiple in number in any part of your oral cavity.
  • These white spots may spread across a surface to appears as white sheets also known as ‘plaques’.
  • Some patients show a mixture of red and white areas.
  • A characteristic crusting and pinkish discoloration especially noted around the corners of lips is also a type of candid infection.
  • In denture wearers, candid infection can be seen below areas covered by dentures.
  • In patients on inhalation type of medicinal use, areas of tongue are affected.
  • In most cases however, the oral tissue which forms the inner lining of your cheeks is affected.

Ideally, your doctor can look at your oral tissues can diagnose this disease. In some situations, the dentist may take a swab / tissue sample from your mouth to give a confirmatory diagnosis.

In a healthy adult, candida has little to no consequence on health and wellbeing. But in a patient with weak immunity, this disease can have drastic effects and may potentially be life threatening.

  • The most disturbing complication of candida infection is its relation to oral cancer. Research has noted that candida infections which occur in association with other pre cancer lesions in oral cavity can increase the risk of oral cancer.
  • The complications of candidia can be systemic manifestation of the disease, often seen in those with weak immunity, which involves skin, mucosal of stomach and intestines and nails which can be managed by systemic anti-fungal medications.

The best treatment of candida infection is use of antifungal medications. Various types of antifungals can be used at different doses, and the best suited medication for you can be decided by your dentist. The commonly prescribed medication is in the liquid form, or in a gel form which can be applied to the tissues 2-3 times a day or as directed by your dentist. Remember not to self-medicate but rather visit your dentist if lesion persists after medications, as this may be a sign of other conditions.

  • Rinse your mouth after any inhalation type of drug use.
  • Always wash your dentures regularly and avoid night use of dentures.
  • Enquire regarding use of probiotics from your doctor if you are on long term antibiotics/ steroid therapy.
  • Encourage a maintenance of good oral hygiene in medically compromised patients.

Last updated on 11 December, 2018.

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