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Monday, March 2, 2015
Can you get tricamonia in your mouth?
Trichomoniasis or Trichomonosis is a parasitic disease caused by the genus Trichomonas, a flagellated protozoon (Pear shaped unicellular eukaryote with a tail).
Trichomonas is usually found in the intestinal and genitourinary tract. Three different species have been described to infect humans:
- T.vaginalis - genitourinary tract bug
- T. hominis - intestinal tract bug
- and T. tenax or T. buccalis - a commensal of the oral cavity.
Briefly, T. tenax is is generally detected in the plaque bio-film that adheres to the tooth surface (plaque). It is also found in carious lesions on teeth and in the periodontal pockets and tonsilar crypts. The frequency of occurrence is related to severity of periodontal disease and associated with poor hygiene. Transmission is through saliva, droplet spray, and kissing or drinking or eating from contaminated sources.
Prevalence of T. tenax ranges from 4- 53%. Detection of infection is by either microscopic examination (wet smear) or by PCR amplifying the 18S rRNA. Treatment for oral Trichomoniasis is the use of metronidazole (Flagyl) or azithromycin (Zithromax), and of course improved oral hygiene and dental care.
Now, I presume you are more concerned with can you get T. vaginalis in the oral cavity. The answer is the oral cavity can be a reservoir or transmission site for T. vaginalis, but it is not associated with oral infection. T. vaginalis can infect both women and men, and symptomatology is variable, from:
- purulent discharge
- foul smell
to no symptoms at all.Men rarely become symptomatic, but should seek treatment if a partner is diagnosed with a Trichomoniasis infection, as re-infection can frequently occur. Transmission can occur with oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex, and masturbation. Trichomonas can survive outside of the body in body fluids for hours and can be spread by contaminated towels, bed sheets. So, yes you can get Trichomonas in the mouth but the parasite is site and species specific.
Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University