Candida colonization of the oral cavity increases in the elderly. A major predisposing condition is denture use, which also increases in the elderly. To test whether the increase in colonization is age-related in a fashion independent of denture use, we analyzed the frequency (incidence) of carriage, the intensity of carriage, the multiplicity of species, and the genetic relatedness of strains in the oral cavities of 93 test subjects separated into the three age groups: 60 to 69 yr, 70 to 79 yr, and > or = 80 yr. Each age group was further subdivided into subjects with and without dentures, and into males and females. The results demonstrate that the frequency of carriage, the intensity of carriage, and multispecies carriage all increase as a function of age and differ according to gender, in both cases independent of denture use, suggesting that the natural suppression of yeast carriage in the oral cavity breaks down in the elderly. In addition, it is demonstrated that Candida glabrata colonizes the oral cavities of elderly individuals without dentures only after 80 yr of age, suggesting that there are age-related compromising conditions other than denture use in this most elderly age group.