4 Things You Need To Know About Chronic Plaque-Type Candidiasis

You probably already know that oral candidiasis is a fungal infection, but you may not know that there is more than one type of this infection. One severe form of oral candidiasis is chronic plaque-type candidiasis, also called candidal leukoplakia. Here's what you need to know about the condition.

What are the symptoms of chronic plaque-type candidiasis?

People with this infection develop chronic, raised white lesions inside their mouths. Usually, these lesions develop on the insides of the cheeks, but they can also develop on your tongue or other oral tissues. 

These lesions can vary in appearance significantly. Sometimes, they're small and soft, but in other cases, they are large, hard, and rough to the touch. The lesions are discrete, which means that they tend to remain separate instead of growing together and merging into bigger lesions. If you notice these symptoms, make sure to tell your dentist.

What causes it?

Like other types of candidiasis, chronic plaque-type candidiasis develops when the Candida fungi that are naturally present inside your mouth get the opportunity to grow out of control. Candida is an opportunistic fungi, so anything that changes your mouth's environment can give it the upper hand and allow an infection to occur. These changes may include things like starting to wear dentures, becoming immunocompromised, or starting to use steroids to control your asthma. Smoking can also play a role in the development of this infection.

Why is it serious?

Chronic plaque-type candidiasis is serious because it has been linked with malignant transformation. This means that there is a chance that your infection may later become oral cancer. Researchers still aren't sure how Candida can cause cancer, but the current hypothesis is that Candida is able to produce nitrosamines, a type of carcinogen. Due to the risk of oral cancer, this type of candidiasis needs to be taken very seriously.

How is it treated?

Like other types of candidiasis, chronic plaque-type candidiasis is treated with antifungal medications. These medications will kill off the Candida overgrowth and return your mouth to normal. Once your infection is gone, your dentist will need to screen you regularly for oral cancer as the affected tissue may become cancerous at some point in the future. In between screenings, you'll need to pay attention to changes in your mouth that could indicate cancer, likes sores that don't heal or lumps on your oral tissues. If you notice any suspicious changes, make sure to bring them to your dentist's attention.

If you're concerned that you may have plaque-type candidiasis, make an appointment with a dentist like the Pike Lake Dental Center right away.