The study of 215 elderly nursing home residents found after 12 weeks of two Lactobacillus reuteri lozenges per day, the proportion of participants with high Candida counts in both saliva and plaque was reduced by over 50% while the placebo group saw no change from baseline levels.
The participants, aged 60 to 102 years, across both groups saw no change in the secondary outcomes of the amount of plaque and gum bleeding.
“Thus, daily use of probiotic lozenges may reduce the prevalence of high oral Candida counts in frail elderly nursing homes residents,” wrote the researchers from the Ljungby Public Dental Clinic and Halland Hospital in Sweden and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
Published in the Journal of Dental Research, the research was supported by Swedish probiotic firm BioGaia, which provided its probiotic lozenge product ProDentis.
Oral thrush, or oral candidosis, is a fungal infection of the mouth caused by yeasts called Candida and is normally treated with antifungal medication.
"The role of the probiotic approach in oral candidosis management can be questioned, since there are effective pharmaceutic alternatives available. However, in frail elderly patients with dentures, xerostomia, and impaired ability for tooth cleaning, the condition is often more or less chronic or frequently recurrent, which may require long-term or repeated antifungal medication with a possible risk of development and
iatrogenic selection of resistant strains," they said.
They added that the the long-term effect of such antifungal drugs on the composition and function of the oral microbiota was unclear.
The condition can be the result of antibiotic treatment, which can upset the body’s bacterial balance, poor hygiene, smoking or wearing dentures.
Symptoms include white patches of ‘plaques’ which can leave red bleeding areas when wiped away, loss of taste or an unpleasant taste in the mouth, redness inside the mouth and throat, cracks at the corners of the mouth and a painful, burning sensation that can make eating uncomfortable.
The condition can also affect children – with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) calculating about one in 20 newborn babies are affected, rising to around one in seven in the fourth week of life.
Source: Journal of Dental Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1177/0022034515595950
“Effect of Probiotic Bacteria on Oral Candida in Frail Elderly”
Authors: E. Kraft-Bodi, M. R. Jørgensen, M. K. Keller, C. Kragelund, S. Twetman