Candida-associated stomatitis in the elderly is somewhat common and can be  extremely uncomfortable for the patient. This condition can cause dysphagia, and if left untreated, a more serious form of candidiasis can develop. Typical conventional treatment of this condition includes antifungal medications; however, because of side effects and the development of resistant strains due to frequent use, alternatives are needed for this population in particular. For these reasons, researchers from Denmark set out to determine if two specific probiotic strains delivered in the form of a lozenge could provide relief in a frail elderly population.
The 2015 study published in the Journal of Dental Research featured 215 older adults age 60 to 120 who were living in nursing homes. The study lasted for 12 weeks. Saliva and oral plaque samples were collected at the beginning and end of the study. The intervention group took one lozenge that contained 100 million CFU of two probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri strains (DSM 17938 and ATCC PTA 5289) twice a day in the morning and evening. At the end of the study, the participants who took the probiotic lozenge had significantly less candida in both saliva and plaque compared to placebo.
The presence of salivary candida remained unchanged in the placebo group, while in the intervention group salivary candida decreased from 72% to 51% at the end of the 12-week period.
Also known as “thrush,” oral candidiasis is a fungal infection that can become chronic in the elderly. In addition to the elderly (especially those who wear dentures), individuals with AIDS or people going through cancer treatment can develop this condition. In cases where the condition is recurrent or chronic, it makes sense to look for alternatives and additions to conventionally-prescribed antifungal medications. In this study, it’s clear that locally administered probiotics have the potential to be an effective way to reduce the prevalence of high oral candida counts in frail elderly.
Kraft-Bodi E, et al. Effect of probiotic bacteria on oral candida in frail elderly. Journal of Dental Research. 2015;94(9) SupplNo2.

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