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thrush vs geogrpaphic tongue
Jun 14, 1999

Thank you for this forum, it offers a wonderful service. I had a 'negligent" time period a few yrs ago in which i did not go to the dentist. During this time, i developed two large areas of decay underneath metal brackets affixed around my back molars, part of a thin wire post'retainer' that went around the inside of my lower mouth. Prior to fixing this, I started experiencing mouth disorders, first being bouts with sore throats, then light, white-ringed circles on the tongue. These came and went, then my tongue started feeling and looking like a strawberry, with very pronounced taste buds around the sides and tip. It felt very sensitive and my doctor and STD clinic both claimed it had no sexual link after inspection. For several years, I have reoccurences with the tongue problems, including the white edged, amoeba-like spots on the tip, sides and top of the tongue which can be brushed off but leave an irritable spot for a day or so, and occasional hyper-sensitivity. These all come and go with varying intensity. I was wondering if a period of poor oral hygiene could have set off a chronic bout with these problems. The only risk-behavior I have ever had is oral sex with monogamous partners. I wanted to clarify more about geographic tongue VS. thrush, and the possibility of these disorders resulting from reactions to the metal brackets and tooth decay from before. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Response from Dr. Reznik

Geographic tongue is a common inflammatory disorder of the tongue affecting all age groups that is more common in females. Since we do not know the cause of geographic tongue, it would be difficult for me say whether or not a period of poor oral hygiene had anything to do with the occurrence. We do feel that genetic factors may be significant as geographic tongue has been reported to occur more frequently in people with other hereditary skin disorders such as psoriasis. Evidence of a relationship between allergies, such as what may have occurred with the metal bands, has not been proven.

Thrush, on the other hand, is the overgrowth of a candida species in the oral cavity. There are several reasons why someone may have a bout of candidiasis including an underlying medical condition or use of medications such as corticosteroids, broad spectrum antibiotics and asthma inhalers. There was a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association which showed a link between decayed teeth and candidiasis. Dental caries alone are not a factor in the development of thrush. What this study showed was that of the conditions for the development of thrush were in place i.e. a medically compromised individual, then the "hole" caused by the dental decay could serve as a reservoir for candida species.

I hope this answers some of your questions!


Thrush?...or Coated Tongue after medicine
Thrush and antibiotics

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