Oropharyngeal Candidiasis (OPC)  
Oral Thrush

Dr. Boban Fidanoski, DMD


Oropharyngeal Candidiasis also known as Oral Thrush is an infection caused by a species of the fungus Candida, usually the Candida albicans. Candida is normally present in small amounts in the mucous membranes of the mouth. It usually causes no harm. However, when conditions such as some systematic illness or taking medications are present, a change in the chemistry of the oral cavity that favours Candida over the other microorganisms that are present will allow Candida to grow uncontrolled, invade surrounding tissues and cause an infection.
Predisposing factors: patients with weakened immune system, HIV, Diabetes, Sjögren's syndrome, hormone imbalances during pregnancy, female patients on oral contraceptives, overly-acidic pH levels from fast foods, stress, patients who have removable dental prostheses, poor dental care and the use of antibiotic medications. Babies can get oropharyngeal candidiasis from their infected mothers: Candida vulvovaginitis (Vaginal yeast infections) is caused by the same fungus that causes oral thrush.
A pregnant woman can pass the fungus to her baby during delivery. As a result, her newborn may develop oral thrush within the first several weeks after birth.
Signs and symptoms: Creamy white lesions, usually on the tongue or inner cheeks. The lesions can be painful and may bleed slightly when scraped or brushed with teeth or toothbrush. Sometimes Candidiasis may spread to the palate, gingiva, oral mucosa, tonsils or to oropharynx.

Prevention: Good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing and using an antiseptic mouthwash, good hand-washing, rinsing the oral cavity after taking a liquid antibiotic.
Treatment: Antifungal medicines in the form of pastilles that are sucked or oral suspensions that are held in the mouth before swallowing. These allow the antifungal agent to act locally in the mouth. Examples include nystatin (e.g. Nystan oral suspension), amphotericin (eg. Fungilin lozenges) or miconazole (e.g. Daktarin oral gel).
Self Care:  
Adults can treat thrush at home with gentian violet (1%), a dye that kills bacteria and fungi. It is available without a prescription.
Complementary and alternative medicine:
- Garlic capsules. Garlic may have antifungal and antibacterial properties. Deodorized garlic capsules can be found in natural food stores and many drugstores. Including raw garlic in a diet also may be beneficial.
-Yeast-Gard tablets. Usually found in natural food stores, this product may help prevent yeast infections and soothe irritated tissue.
-Caprylic acid capsules. This fatty acid, derived from coconut oil, has been shown to have antifungal properties. They’re generally safe, but shouldn't be used if a patient has ulcerative colitis.

-Infection can be controlled by eating unsweetened yogurt which contains lactobacillus, friendly bacteria that kills yeast.
- Taking acidophilus capsules or liquid. Acidophilus is available in natural food stores and many drugstores.


author: Dr. Boban Fidanoski, DMD

© January, 2007