Around 80% of the population has a naturally occurring type of fungi in their mouths known as candida albicans. In low enough numbers, these fungi are generally just a harmless part of your mouth’s oral flora. However, if their numbers get too high, a fungal infection can result. One of the infections caused by candida albicans is known as glossitis.
There are a number of reasons why glossitis may occur. Because these fungi are opportunistic, they will take advantage of a changing oral cavity environment. Changes occurring in the oral cavity can include dentures, dry mouth, a compromised immune system, and certain nutritional deficiencies.
The main symptom of glossitis is a lesion appearing on the tongue. This lesion will be red and located in the middle or towards the back of the tongue. This lesion is usually oval-shaped and may appear to be lumpy. No other symptoms will accompany the lesion, meaning that, unless you see it, you may not even be aware that you have glossitis. If you notice a lesion matching this description, please make sure to point it out to Dr. Preston Polson.
If you suspect that you may have glossitis, a saliva culture will be used to definitively confirm the diagnosis. The test will be done by having you rinse your mouth with water or saline and then spitting the liquid into a sterile container. Your saliva will then be analyzed for traces of candida infection. Additionally, a swab may be taken of the tongue lesion.
If you do in fact have glossitis, antifungal medications will be used to treat it. Once the infection is completely gone, the goal is to prevent it from coming back. This can usually be achieved by practicing good at-home oral hygiene and visiting our office every six months for a dental cleaning and exam. You should also be using an antimicrobial mouthwash to keep the fungi in check.
If you believe you may be suffering from glossitis, or if you have any other concerns about your oral health, please don’t hesitate to contact Meadows Family Dentistry. Our general dentist’s office is located here in Castle Rock, Colorado.