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Thrush in the mouth occurs due to Candida fungi of affecting the mucous membrane of the oral cavity. The development of thrush is most often associated with a decrease in the body’s defenses, as well as with the deterioration of local immunity of the oral mucosa. In professional language, this disease is called – oral candidiasis.
It is important to understand that thrush on gums in adults is not a common fungal mucosal damage that occurs accidentally or as a result of antibiotics. The thing is that affection of the mucous membrane by fungi of Candida genus is often a marker of serious (not yet diagnosed) diseases.
Oral Thrush: Causes
There are many subspecies of Candida fungi, but in about 50% of cases oral candidiasis is caused by Candida Albicans (albicans). Less frequently, the oral thrush can be caused by C. tropicalis, C. glabrata, C. krusei, C. pseudotropicalis and other types of fungi. Most often oral candidiasis occurs in 2 groups of patients. The first group consists of patients with insufficient oral hygiene or untreated carious teeth. This is due to the fact that such patients have a large number of pathogenic bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria weaken the protective forces of the oral mucosa (that is why Candida fungi begin to penetrate into the mucous membrane). The second most common cause of oral thrush on gums is weakened immunity. Therefore, the main risk group includes patients with weakened immunity against the background of various diseases (for example, against the background of HIV/AIDS, diabetes, malnutrition, as well as patients with active cancer, or those who have passed chemotherapy or radiation therapy).
Symptoms of Thrush in the Mouth
When there is thrush on gums in adults – the symptoms may vary greatly depending on the patient. The fact is there are four main types of thrush of the oral cavity (oral candidiasis) each of which has special characteristic symptoms. There are 4 main forms of this disease:
- acute pseudomembranous candidiasis,
- acute atrophic candidiasis,
- chronic atrophic candidiasis,
- chronic hyperplastic candidiasis.
Despite the differences in symptoms, the treatment is almost the same for each form of the disease:
- Acute pseudomembranous candidiasis. This form of oral thrush is usually asymptomatic. There may be only discomfort due to the presence of white films or plaques, towering over the oral mucosa. With a light course, plaques are isolated and can be easily removed by scraping a bright red mucosa is found under them.
- Acute and chronic atrophic candidiasis. In acute atrophic candidiasis, the patient may feel that the mouth was scalded with hot liquid. At the same time, there are no white plaques and the mucous membrane has a bright red color. Another possible symptom is a metallic, acidic, salty or bitter taste in the mouth, as well as dry mouth. Most often, acute atrophic candidiasis develops after taking antibiotics or corticosteroids. In chronic atrophic candidiasis redness of the mucous membrane is observed, there are burning sensations. Most often, this form of oral thrush occurs in patients with removable dentures, and therefore it is sometimes called prosthetic stomatitis.
- Chronic hyperplastic candidiasis. It occurs only in adults and is quite rare (in relation to other forms of candidiasis, the frequency of its occurrence is not more than 5%). Most often occurs on the mucous membrane of the cheeks, near the corners of the mouth, on the back of the tongue, as well as on the soft palate. It is characterized by the appearance of white plaques that grow and merge with time. In the expressed stage the surface of plaques becomes rough and knotty. Plaques may eventually become yellowish in color.
Why It Is Important to Seek Medical Treatment?
First of all, it is very important to conduct a cytological study and to determine the sensitivity of fungal infection to various antifungal drugs. Otherwise, you can spend a lot of money on expensive drugs, which will not be effective for you. A visit to a doctor is also important because he/she will identify a serious disease that has not been diagnosed yet and one of the manifestations of which may be small thrush on gums. You should consult a specialist because there are a large number of diseases of the oral mucosa (eg, leukoplakia), which can be taken as oral candidiasis. Improper self-treatment in this case will only lead to the progression of the disease.
Prophylactic use of antifungal drugs is mandatory in people with HIV infection, during radiation therapy, during immunosuppressive or prolonged antibiotic therapy.
Remember that if oral candidiasis is prone to regular relapses, it is better to undergo a full examination of the body. Candidiasis can only be a symptom (marker) of the underlying disease, which you may not even suspect. For example, candidiasis can sometimes be the result of a serious pathology, such as HIV/AIDS, a sign of cancer or blood diseases.