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What Is Oral Thrush, And Who Can Get It? Learn With Puyallup Park Dental in Puyallup, WA


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Oral thrush, or oropharyngeal candidiasis, is a fungal infection in the mouth caused by a yeast called Candida. Some amounts of Candida naturally occurs on or in places like the skin, mouth, throat, digestive tract, and vagina. However, changes or imbalances in these environments can sometimes cause Candida to multiply, resulting in infection.


In the mouth, candidiasis usually presents as white-ish, raised, patchy lesions on the tongue, inside cheeks or throat. Below, we’ll discuss the risk factors, symptoms, treatment and prevention of oral thrush.




Risk Factors of Oral Thrush

Thrush is rare among young and healthy adults. It is more commonly seen in babies (particularly babies who are less than one month old and breastfeeding), dentures-wearers, and adults with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems. There are many possible causes of oral thrush, including:


  • In breastfeeding mothers and their babies – by the transfer of microorganisms from baby to mother, or from mother to baby.

  • Pregnancy (due to hormonal changes.)

  • Poor oral hygiene

  • Dry mouth

  • Wearing dentures (in particular, neglecting to clean dentures daily, or ill-fitting dentures.)

  • Taking antibiotic or corticosteroids

  • Diabetes or other immune compromising illnesses, such as cancer or HIV/AIDS

  • Smoking



Symptoms of Oral Thrush

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  • White, cottage cheese-like patches on the tongue, inside cheeks or back of the throat

  • Redness and soreness inside the mouth

  • Loss of taste

  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth

  • Sensitivity to spicy foods

  • Cottony feeling in the mouth

  • Cracks at the corners of the mouth

  • Pain while eating or swallowing

  • Fever, if the infection spreads beyond the esophagus


Thrush is usually not contagious, though it can sometimes spread to at risk individuals. If left untreated, oral thrush can spread to other parts of a person’s body and cause

serious health issues.




Treatment

Oral thrush is usually successfully treated with a 7-14 day course of antifungal medication. Topical medications (like gels or liquids) are commonly used, though oral medications (tablets and lozenges) are also sometimes used. Your healthcare provider can recommend which medication type is best depending on the individual’s age and specific cause of thrush.




Prevention

Because there are several different risk factors of oral thrush, specific prevention methods depends on the potential causes. For example:


If you take antibiotics or corticosteroids, consult your doctor. They may change your dosage, medication type, or the way it is delivered. If you take inhaled corticosteroids, rinse your mouth with plain water after using your inhaler, which will help keep your mouth’s pH balance normal while also rinsing your mouth of lingering medication.


For people who wear dentures, good oral hygiene is essential to keeping oral thrush at bay! Regular brushing and flossing removes food debris and excess microorganisms from your mouth and between your teeth, while also helping to maintain normal, healthy pH levels. Remember to:


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  • Brush and floss every day.

  • Rinse your mouth with water after meals.

  • Visit your dentist regularly, both to maintain good oral health and to ensure well-fitting dentures.

  • Remove and clean your dentures thoroughly every night as instructed.

  • Brush your gums, tongue and cheeks using a soft-bristled toothbrush daily.

  • Limit the amount of sugary and yeast-containing foods you consume (such as breads, beer and wine).

  • Avoid smoking or other tobacco use.


For people with weakened immune systems, the number one priority is to unsure that any underlying condition you have is well controlled. And like dentures-wearers, you should also be vigilant about:

  • Good oral hygiene.

  • Visiting your dentist regularly.

  • Limiting the amount of consumed sugar and yeast-containing foods.

  • Avoiding smoking and tobacco use.






 
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