Background. Thalassemia is a common inherited hemolytic disorder characterized by the absence or reduction of one of the globin chains. Beta thalassemia major generally has oral cavity manifestations. Patients with beta thalassemia major often require routine blood transfusion. However, this treatment has the side effect of accumulating iron in the salivary glands, which increase the risk of dental caries, gingivitis, and secondary infection from Candida albicans. Objective. The aim of this review is to explain the relationship of salivary iron levels and the effects of iron accumulation on dental caries, gingivitis, and Candida albicans infection. Methods. A comprehensive search was performed on PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases using the keywords beta thalassemia major, iron, dental caries, gingivitis, Candida albicans. Results. Iron is an essential micronutrient needed by Candida albicans for its growth and virulence. Blood transfusion in patients with beta thalassemia major can lead to a buildup of iron in the salivary glands and trigger the formation of non-transferrin bound iron (NTBI). NTBI can circulate in plasma and form a reactive oxygen species (ROS) that stimulate the formation of biofilms and increase dental caries. ROS may affect several genes associated with the inflammatory process and increase the incidence of gingivitis. It can also reduce salivary secretion in patients with thalassemia-β major that cause dysbiosis, which triggers an overgrowth of Candida albicans. Conclusion. The excess iron in patients with beta thalassemia major increase the risk of dental caries, gingivitis, and Candida albicans infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalActa Medica Philippina
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Candida albicans
  • beta thalassemia major
  • dental caries
  • gingivitis
  • iron


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