The Oral Mycobiome: How Fungi in Our Mouths Help or Hurt Us (Condensed Version)

Fungus is a normal, natural inhabitant of the oral microbiome. Candida is the most well-known oral fungus. Sometimes called “yeasts,” Candida lives in people’s mouths, intestines, and on their skin. One in two adults has Candida species living in their mouth.4 In small to moderate amounts, it is normal and does not cause a problem as long as the immune system is in good working order. However, Candida can get out of balance for people at risk. Certain factors make a person more likely to have Candida overgrowth.

When people have very weak immune systems, Candida infections can take over the bloodstream (called “invasive candidiasis”) and can be deadly. Hospitals see these infections sometimes and they are dangerous. However, for most people, fungal overgrowth shows up with mild, bothersome symptoms. Most people have had, or know someone who has had, oral thrush, vaginal yeast infections, jock itch, and/or athlete’s foot. These are common yeast overgrowth symptoms that point to an imbalance of fungi and bacteria in your microbiome.

Candida Overgrowth Tests
Testing for Candida overgrowth or fungal imbalance isn’t easy or widely available. Dental professionals use saliva tests to detect fungal dysbiosis or Candida in the mouth, such as OraRisk® Candida by OralDNA® Labs. Since mainstream medicine doesn’t recognize subclinical fungal imbalance as a real problem, practitioners don’t run tests for it. However, integrative and functional medicine practitioners run advanced stool tests to measure fungi such as Candida or Rhodotorula species, which may be high in the intestines. One example is the GI-MAP by Diagnostic Solutions. Some of the other tests to detect yeast overgrowth are fecal microscopy, Candida blood antibodies, or urinary fungal metabolites such as D-arabinitol. In hospital settings where invasive candidiasis is a risk, physicians measure Candida by blood culture.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to test fungi. They don’t always grow well in cell culture tests. Their cell walls are very strong and that can help them evade measurement by DNA based studies. Special procedures must be used to destroy their cell walls to free up their DNA so it can be measured accurately.2

This is a condensed version of Cass Nelson Dooley’s full blog. Cass puts out a high-quality, referenced e-newsletter about the oral microbiome, gut health, food allergies, and hidden toxins each month. Consumers and practitioners who subscribe will receive the popular “Buyer’s Guide to High-Quality, Safe, Nutritional Supplements for You and Your Family” at no charge, as well as discount offers on natural oral health products.

You can find more about Cass on the Health First Consulting page of our Protocol Directory. We welcome her expertise, writing skills and finesse interpreting patients’ results.

Please see full blog for References.

Cass Nelson-Dooley MS