Does your mouth suddenly feel like it’s full of cotton? Have you noticed growths in your mouth that look like cottage cheese? You might have a fungal infection commonly known as oral thrush. Learn what causes oral thrush, how to treat it, and steps you can take to prevent it.
What Is Oral Thrush?
Thrush is a fungal infection that develops in your throat, mouth, and other areas of your body. It can appear in your mouth as white, raised lesions that look like cottage cheese.
Oral thrush is annoying and causes minor problems for healthy people. They often resolve in a few weeks after treatment. However, it can cause severe complications in patients with compromised immune systems once they spread to other parts of the body.
Oral Thrush: Symptoms
Thrush often occurs out of the blue, and patients may not experience any symptoms during early-stage oral thrush. Creamy white and slightly raised lesions are the most common signs of thrush, usually found on the inside of your cheeks or your tongue. They can also be found on your gums, the roof of your mouth, tonsils, or the back of the throat. You may also experience the following symptoms:
- Loss of taste
- Redness or soreness in the corners and inside of your mouth
- Cottony sensation in your mouth
These lesions are tender and may even bleed when your brush your teeth or scrape them. They may also spread to your esophagus, making swallowing painful or difficult. It also causes food to get stuck in your throat and fever if it spreads beyond your esophagus.
Oral Thrush: Causes and Risk Factors
Candida albicans is the most common candida fungus and the main cause of oral thrush. It’s found in small numbers in the skin, stomach, and mouth and is kept under the control of other bacteria and microorganisms.
Stress, illness, medications, and other factors that disrupt this balance allow candida to cause thrush. The risk of developing oral thrush increases with several factors, like:
- Weak Immune System – Oral thrush is more common in older adults and infants due to weaker immune systems. Some medical conditions and treatments can suppress the immune system, like cancer, organ transplantation, HIV/AIDs, and other serious illnesses.
- Diabetes – Uncontrolled diabetes leads to high sugar levels in saliva, encouraging candida growth.
- Vaginal Yeast Infection – The same fungi cause oral thrush and vaginal yeast infections. You can also pass this infection to your baby.
- Medications – Inhaled corticosteroids, prednisone, and antibiotics disrupt the natural balance of your body’s microorganisms, increasing your chances of developing oral thrush.
Is Oral Thrush Contagious?
Thrush can affect anyone, but they’re more common in infants, older adults, and people with weak immune systems. High-risk people are in danger of contracting thrush. Transmitting thrush through kissing or close contact is rare in healthy people.
Avoid contact with saliva from someone with thrush. Wash your hands often if you’re near someone with thrush.
Oral Thrush and Breastfeeding
Many moms worry about giving or getting thrush from their babies while breastfeeding. Infants are more susceptible than adults, a common problem in breastfeeding that’s tricky to treat. Infants may also experience several episodes of oral thrush in their first year.
Babies develop a sore throat or experience pain in their mouths, making them irritable and cry. Mothers taking antibiotics can also develop a thrush infection around their nipples and breasts that they can transmit to their babies. Mothers and babies with thrush can also pass the infection to each other.
Thrush should be treated in both mother and baby simultaneously to avoid a cycle of exchanging infection.
Oral Thrush: Treatment
Oral thrush treatment includes medications and home remedies. Here are some you want to try:
Your doctor might prescribe antifungal medications like fluconazole and clotrimazole to treat thrush. They may also recommend an antifungal mouthwash to rinse your mouth.
Oral thrush usually disappears within two weeks after treatment. However, it may still return. Adults who experience recurring thrush without a known cause should go to their healthcare provider to find any underlying medical conditions contributing to the thrush.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes and home remedies to treat oral thrush and relieve its symptoms. Practice good oral hygiene during and after recovery. You may also try rinsing your mouth with the following:
- 1 cup water + 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup water + juice from half a lemon
- 1 cup Water + 1 teaspoon unfiltered raw apple cider vinegar
You should also consider eating yogurt with beneficial bacteria or taking probiotic supplements. Always consult a doctor before giving infants supplements.
How To Prevent Oral Thrush
These are some things you can do to avoid oral thrush:
Maintain good oral hygiene.
Brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once a day. You should also clean your dentures well. Remove them at night and clean them daily. They should also fit you well.
Rinse your mouth with water if you’re taking corticosteroids, and avoid using mouthwashes or sprays that can harm the balance of microorganisms in your mouth.
Maintain good blood sugar control.
Having good control over your blood sugar ensures low sugar levels in your saliva, discouraging candida growth.
Visit your dentist regularly.
Regular visits to your dentist are essential if you have diabetes or wear dentures.
Watch what you eat.
Limit your consumption of sugary foods. They may encourage candida growth.
Smoking can cause and make thrush worse. Talk to your doctor about how you can kick this bad habit.
Oral thrush is a fungal infection caused by Candida albicans, usually found in the skin and mouth. Imbalances in the mouth’s microorganisms allow it to cause an infection, appearing as white raised lesions inside the mouth. It may also cause a cottony sensation inside your mouth, soreness, and loss of taste.
Infants, older adults, and immunocompromised patients are more susceptible to thrush. Doctors often treat it with antifungal medications and home remedies. Good oral hygiene, maintaining blood sugar control, and regular visits to your dentist are some ways to prevent oral thrush.
Keep your mouth healthy with Sunrise Dentistry.
Our dentists in Durango, CO, provide preventive dentistry services that keep the mouth safe from infections like thrush. They also offer advice about oral health and hygiene and provide holistic treatments. Contact us today and start your journey to wellness.