Tongue fungus, also known as oral Candidiasis
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10 Sep 2021

Tongue fungus, also known as oral Candidiasis

Oral candidiasis or tongue fungus is an infection caused by the fungus Candida Albicans.

This microorganism lives with us in our body in the form of yeast: on the mucous membranes, on the skin, in our intestine… The function of fungi in our body is to break down and our immune system keeps them under control so that they do not generate any disease.

The fungus Candida Albicans can be considered as an opportunistic germ, since the infection of this fungus occurs when the circumstances are not ideal for it and, then, its genetics change.

This type of fungus is very sensitive to changes in temperature, pH or anything that revolves around it and can cause it to turn from a single-celled yeast into a multi-celled fungus that invades tissues and destroys them. And for this reason infection occurs.

Symptomatology

Its symptoms are very common and it is important not to confuse it with the accumulation of plaque or food debris. It usually manifests itself as white or red spots on the tongue or mucous membranes of the mouth.

These white patches come off when rubbed, leaving a reddened area that can cause burning and stinging in the mouth.

To be more enlightening, we are going to name the different symptoms that can occur when you have fungus on your tongue:

SYMPTOMS

  • Burning.
  • Alteration of taste.
  • Cracks in the corners of the mouth.
  • Halitosis (bad breath).
  • White mucous on the tongue.
  • Inflammation of the gums.
  • Irritability during chewing.

CAUSES OF TONGUE FUNGUS

This fungus in the mouth can be due to several factors:

FACTORS

  • Use of dental prostheses that are poorly adapted or poorly sanitised.
  • Suffering from xerostomia or dry mouth.
  • Some systemic diseases.
  • Continuous use of antibiotics and oral antiseptics, which can alter the oral bacterial flora.
  • Hormonal alterations.
  • Poor diet: eating certain foods can generate micro-organisms such as fungi or bacteria.
  • Tobacco.
  • Stress and emotional problems.
  • Chemotherapy treatments.
  • Weakened immune system: as mentioned above, our immune system controls these micro-organisms that work like yeast in our body.

In short, any agent can cause these fungi to mutate.

TREATMENT

Treatment depending on the severity will consist of the use of antifungal or antifungal drugs either systemically or by mouth rinses.

Tongue fungus should be treated for about 3 weeks, otherwise it can lead to much more serious infections and spread to other parts of the body. In the case of tongue fungus, it can spread to the rest of the mouth or the oesophagus.

SEVERE ORAL THRUSH – WHAT HAPPENS?

When oral candidiasis is present and the infection is not treated or occurs in immunocompromised, elderly or previously pathological individuals, it becomes complicated and invasive, leading to blood infections, peritonitis or bone infection. These complications occur with a 10% to 20% chance.

HOW TO PREVENT TONGUE FUNGUS?

These tips can be beneficial both when you have oral fungus and to prevent it.

GOOD ORAL HYGIENE

Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing to remove any food debris is very important to eliminate possible bacteria from your teeth. Changing toothbrushes from time to time and not sharing them is also a factor to be taken into account to avoid the exchange of bacteria.

CORRECTLY DISINFECTING AND SANITISING DENTAL PROSTHESES

For the correct disinfection of the denture it is necessary to: remove the prosthesis carefully: wash and brush it with water, neutral soap and a special toothbrush for dental prostheses; brush all its areas well; dry it well and store it carefully. If you need more information, consult your dentist.

WARM SALT WATER MOUTHWASHES

Rinsing your mouth with salt water is a remedy that has several benefits for your oral health:

  • Helps remove bits of food that we haven’t been able to get out with brushing or flossing.
  • Disinfects.
  • Soothes pain.
  • Helps heal wounds such as mouth ulcers.
  • Promotes healthy gums.

BREAST SHIELDS FOR BREAST-FEEDING MOTHERS

If you are breastfeeding and have contracted a yeast infection you should use breast shields to stop it spreading through your clothes.

HAVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

It is very important to avoid oral thrush infection: take care of your diet, trying to reduce the intake of foods with too much sugar as these help the fungus to grow.

CONSULT YOUR DENTIST REGULARLY

Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups to prevent infection and disease.

HOW IS THE DIAGNOSIS OF TONGUE FUNGUS MADE?

WHICH SPECIALIST IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DIAGNOSING TONGUE FUNGUS?

A dentist is the key specialist to diagnose the presence of candida fungus in the oral cavity.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

  • Examination of the mouth to check for lesions.
  • Sampling of the lesions with a scraping for analysis under a microscope.
  • Physical examination and if necessary a blood test to accurately assess the infection.

WHAT QUESTIONS WILL THE DOCTOR ASK YOU TO MAKE A DIAGNOSIS?

To determine the severity of the fungal infection, the doctor will ask you a series of questions. These questions are:

  • When did you start having symptoms?
  • Have you taken any antibiotics recently?
  • Do you have any illnesses?
  • Are you asthmatic?
  • Are you diabetic?

If you assume that you have any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, we recommend that you visit your dentist for an examination.

Regular check-ups can prevent many diseases and infections that can save you a lot of discomfort, so don’t think twice and ask for a consultation at Nart Clínica Dental!

 

 

 

Dr. Cosimo Galleti

Dr. Cosimo Galleti is a specialist in Integrated Dentistry from the Universidad degli Studi di Messina (Italy). He has a master's degree in Integrated Dentistry in adults from the UB and is an associate professor at the UIC in the Department of Dentistry.

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