4 Things You Need To Know About Oral Aspergillosis

Posted on: 14 September 2015

Aspergillus is a type of mold that is widespread in nature. It can be found growing anywhere from inside damp walls to inside starchy foods like baked goods and potatoes. Everyone gets exposed to aspergillus, and for most people, it's not a problem. However, for some people, aspergillus can take hold in the mouth and grow out of control, leading to a fungal infection called oral aspergillosis. Here are four things you need to know about oral aspergillosis.

What are the signs of oral aspergillosis?

The main sign of oral aspergillosis is a single ulcer or nodule inside your mouth. This can develop on any of the soft tissues inside your mouth, including the roof of your mouth. These ulcers tend to be yellow or black. If the fungal infection spreads from your mouth to your sinuses, you'll also feel pain and swelling beneath your cheeks and around your eyes. If you notice these signs, make sure to see your dentist right away for treatment.

Why does it occur?

If you have a healthy immune system, your body will keep aspergillus levels under control, but in people who are immunocompromised, the fungus can grow and spread unchecked, leading to infection. Here are some possible factors that can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to oral aspergillosis.

  • Transplant recipients;
  • People with blood cancers;
  • People with AIDS;
  • Chemotherapy patients;
  • People who use long-term corticosteroids to treat another health condition.

How is it treated?

Oral aspergillosis is treated with high doses of antifungal medications. These medications work by killing the fungus. You may need to take a combination of antifungal medications to effectively target the fungus.

Your dentist may also surgically remove the infected tissue. Surgery can be done when antifungal medications don't work. It can also be used in conjunction with antifungal therapy as combining the two treatments has been shown to provide better outcomes than antifungals alone.

How common is oral aspergillosis?

Oral aspergillosis isn't common among people with healthy immune systems, but it's fairly common among people with weakened immune systems. About 10% of people with active leukemia will develop this fungal infection. Among people who receive stem-cell transplants or other transplants, the prevalence rate is also 10%. This complication also affects about 1.3% of people who are hospitalized for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

If you have a compromised immune system and notice a nodule or ulcer inside your mouth, see your dentist right away. You could have oral aspergillosis, a treatable fungal infection.

For more information, visit a local dentist such as Dillon Family Dental PLLC.