The human oral cavity is home to startling number of different strains of bacteria and microbes, not to mention the enzymes that deal with them. There are also trace amounts of fungus in the mouth, and every once in a while, especially when the immune system is over taxed, these funguses can start to proliferate extensively, and cause a fungal infection in the mouth.
Usually, it is our old friend candida albicans, the same fungus that is responsible for oral thrush and yeast infections in women. It is actually a yeast fungus, and makes a culture that is a thick mat of mycelium. It is ever present and can cause all sorts of problems, and is one of the microbes that lives with us for the rest of our lives, and keeps other strains of fungus at bay. However, it can proliferate out of control, and is likely to do so every once in a while. When it does, it usually attacks the tongue, and causes the tongue to become a map tongue, or even worse, the fungus may make a sticky mat of mycelium directly on the tongue. Small white colonies may appear on the cheeks or even the gingiva, but this is much rarer, and indicative of more severe problems.
Yet the “classic symptoms” of the fungus mat are quite rare, and the usual appearance of fungus is much more orderly. Usually the symptoms are simply tiny lesions, the same ones caused by the herpes simplex virus HPV, and a host of other problems. Often times the patient will feel like their mouth is burning or swollen and red, and this can go away in a few days, but can also intensify. Patients often complain of bad breath and a foul taste in the mouth of acidic, salty or bitter tastes. Many types of candida are membranous or pseudomembranous, making a membrane in the mouth. The areas near or under this membrane will hurt, usually quite a bit.
The good news is that this disease is one that only affects a small portion of the population, as these funguses are usually quite effectively dealt with by a healthy immune system. And when it does proliferate, there are many cures available to those who seek them. One thing that fungus hates is precious metals like silver. This is why scientists have been making some ingestible silver laced powders to put in water and swish around in your mouth. It will fight the bacteria very effectively. BUt a new and much better solution is also underway.
The microbe known as Pichia is a godsend for those of us suffering from oral thrush. It is a microbe that prevents the growths of other funguses, and is completely asymptomatic. Currently cures are being formulated using Pichia, but it is quite some time before an effective cure is made. Until then, mouthwash and antifungal medication are your best bet.
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