Updated 22 January 2021

Oral Thrush

tooth ache
Candida albicans is the main type of fungus responsible for the mouth infection commonly referred to as Oral thrush. The mouth is a perfect environment for this type of Candida to thrive because it is moist and warm. However, Candida (thrush) is also known to affect other parts of the body including mucous membranes, the skin, and even in a woman's vagina There are other Candida that are naturally found in the human body and are quite harmless under normal circumstances, but because Candida are known to be opportunistic pathogens they tend to capitalize on a compromised immune system or any disruption in the normal body function (especially when antibiotics are used) to multiply exponentially. When Candida becomes widespread in the body, the result is a Candida overgrowth culminating in the appearance of visible symptoms. This Candida overgrowth would need to be curtailed in order to avoid further complications.

Symptoms of Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is characterised by the appearance of the following symptoms;
  • White, creamy patches visible on the tongue as well as the inside of the mouth including the inside of the cheeks, upper and lower lips.
  • Mouth lesions causing discomfort and pain.
  • Bleeding of the mouth lesions.
  • Redness and cracks which are visible all around the inside of the mouth, but particularly the corners of the mouth.
  • eating or drinking difficulties.

Susceptibility to Oral Thrush

There are people that are more prone to oral thrush than others Here is a list of those groups of people that are more susceptible to oral thrush.
  • Cigarette smokers.
  • People with an underlying health condition, such as; iron deficiency, cancer, diabetes and HIV.
  • Those that regularly make use of some form of inhaled corticosteroid like asthma patients.
  • People that wear dentures. Dentures that do not fit properly can provide a suitable environment that encourages Candida growth.
  • Anyone that does not practice good and proper oral hygiene. It is important to brush your teeth and tongue after a meal or at least twice a day which can be the first thing in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.
  • Anyone using medications that affect the production of saliva which provides natural protection from Candida overgrowth in the mouth.
  • Those with an immune system that is suppressed due to some sort of Cancer treatment or the use of oral and injectable corticosteroids.
  • People on an extensive course of broad-spectrum antibiotics which can disrupt the growth of good bacteria in the body that offer a natural protection from Candida overgrowth.
  • Babies that are less than 4 weeks old are also at a high risk of developing oral thrush as they are yet to have fully developed immune systems.
Breastfeeding babies who have oral thrush may pass the thrush to their mother’s breast. The mother’ symptoms may include red, sensitive, painful or cracked nipples,

Oral thrush Diagnosis  

A doctor can diagnose oral thrush in most cases by simply examining the inside of the mouth.

Oral Thrush Treatment

Typically, your doctor will prescribe antifungal medications for the treatment of oral thrush. You can get antifungal drugs in capsules, gels, lozenges, liquids, and oral drops. For infants, antifungal oral drops and gels are prescribed. However, Oral Thrush in infants usually clear up on their own after some days and without any treatment, but where your baby still has oral thrush, then antifungal medication would become necessary.

Recovery and the Prevention of Oral Thrush

You can expect a quick recovery from oral thrush after using prescribed antifungal drugs. However, you should make sure that you complete your dosage even if the oral thrush is no longer visible. If your oral thrush is severe, see your doctor. To prevent oral thrush, you can adopt these tips in your everyday life;
  • Practice proper and good oral hygiene at all times. This entails brushing your teeth and tongue at least twice daily.
  • Floss a minimum of once a day.
  • Regularly pay your dentist a visit.
  • If you wear dentures, take them out before going to sleep, clean them and allow the dentures to dry properly overnight.
  • If you take inhaled corticosteroids, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after use.
  • Cigarette smoking can greatly increase yeast growth in your mouth, so it is advisable for you to quit smoking cigarettes if you want to avoid oral thrush.
  • Limit the quantities of sugar-containing foods.

Complications

There are usually no complications of oral thrush in healthy people. However, in people with lowered immunity such as during cancer treatment, oral thrush can be more serious and spread to other parts of the body.  
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