How to spot and prevent a fungal infection in the mouth

The mouth is a place where a lot of things can go wrong. From cancers to canker sores, everything likes to live in our mouths, including fungus, but few people know about this last nasty little visitor. Oral fungal infections are usually caused by candida albicans. This fungus can be found in slight doses in everyone, and is present in small amount in the mouth and intestines and helps us digest food. Certain conditions can make the fungus proliferate out of control, making us sick.

What causes it?

Candida is present in our bodies, there is nothing we can do about that, but certain conditions make them go crazy and take over. Smoking, unhealthy eating habits, and poor oral hygiene can be a cause, but often times there is an infection of candida albicans somewhere else in the body, but a compromise immune system can be the cause as well, and certain medications (steroids, contraceptives and antibiotics) can also disrupt the body’s defences and cause the candida to flourish. There are other factors that put us at greater risk; like having to take antibiotics for an extended period of time, diabetes, the use of inhalers, and even the use of dentures carries a heightened risk of infestation. Pregnancy and frequent dry mouth all can be causes of a fungal infection, and small children usually contract it during breast feeding, this is called oral thrush.


Oral fungal infections are very unpleasant because they are very quick to develop, but the healing process can be a very long and arduous battle. It can develop on the tongue, the inside of the lips, on the inside of the cheeks, but it can start to affect the tonsils, the back of the throat and the palate as well. The fungal infection appears as a thin white film at first, and if you wipe it off, you will see a bloody mucus membrane beneath it. If it spreads to the oesophagus, than swallowing will become hard and painful, and in certain cases, fever and inflammation may also result from the fungal infection. It is important to treat the infection as soon as possible, because candida can start to live in your skin, your lungs, or your liver. This is rare though, and is more frequent amongst cancer patients and those of us with immunological diseases or disorders.


Protect yourself

Fungus is usually diagnosed by your doctor, and s/he will have the final say in how your treatment will commence. Usually a combination of medication, mouthwash, gels and creams will lessen the symptoms. In most cases, the fungus is just a secondary disease, with the primary disease weakening the immune system to the point where an outbreak of candida albicans can happen. Usually getting rid of the fungus is not as important as finding out why it was able to overcome your defences, and rectifying that issue.


The most effective treatment is prevention, and if we never contract a fungal infection. There are ways to achieve this, and the most important tool will be proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day at least, and clean the gaps in your teeth as well, with floss or an interdental toothbrush. Do not forget about your tongue! If you have dentures or false teeth, clean it thoroughly, clean it every day according to the instructions you were given, as seven in ten users of dental prostheses will experience some kind of fungal infection during their use of the prostheses. Quit smoking, as this well lessen your chances of dying of cancer as well. Try and avoid foods with high sugar content, or that are overly processed, and take it easy on the yeasts, too. In order to lessen the amount of candida in your body, you can go on a candida diet as well, this is worth checking out. Diabetics have more frequent occurrences of this fungus, so make sure you check your blood sugar levels regularly, and cut back on carbs if it is getting too high. If you can, limit your use of mouth sprays and mouthwash. It is true that these products are good at maintaining oral hygiene, but if you use it too much, they can upset the balance in your mouth, and this will cause candida to wreak havoc in your mouth. The most important thing you can do is to go to your dentist every six months for a check-up, and they will tell you if there is any problem.


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