Oral thrush, also known as oral candidiasis, is a condition that occurs when a fungus called Candida albicans builds up on the lining of your mouth. Anyone can develop oral thrush, but babies, young children, older adults, or anyone with a compromised immune system due to an illness such as HIV are more susceptible.
Conversely, candidiasis lesions can be an early sign of an HIV infection. The main symptom of oral thrush is creamy white lesions in the mouth, usually on the tongue or inner cheeks. A thrush infection can spread and involve the roof of the mouth and the gums, where it can cause symptoms such as redness and irritation. In some cases, the lesions may appear on the roof of the mouth or on the back of the throat. Oral thrush can sometimes also be confused with leukoplakia. But leukoplakia lesions are caused by chronic irritation from rough edges on teeth, fillings or crowns, not by an organism. And leukoplakia lesions develop over time, while thrush lesions may develop suddenly.
Thrush is caused when the naturally occurring fungi in the body get out of balance, which is why the very old, very young, and people with weak immune systems are at higher risk. Good oral hygiene, however, is an essential part of treating oral thrush. Healthy adults and children can recover fairly easily from the infection, especially if they follow a complete oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily proper flossing. See your dental professional if you have any type of lesions on your tongue or in your mouth so you can determine the cause of the problem and plan a course of treatment. The goal in treating thrush is to stop the infection from spreading.
If you have thrush, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Breastfeeding mothers should be alert to signs of thrush during a healthy newborn’s first two weeks—that is when the infection is quite common. An infant with thrush may be especially fussy and resistant to feeding, and parents should be sure to check a newborn’s mouth for signs of lesions. In addition, a baby with thrush can transmit the infection back to the mother.
New mothers should be alert to these signs:
Healthy babies and children may not need treatment however—the lesions may resolve on their own. Sometimes adding yogurt to you or your child’s diet may do the trick and reset the bacterial imbalance caused by the excess amount of the thrush fungus.
Most doctors or dental professionals can diagnose thrush by looking at the lesions, but if you or your doctor or dental professional suspects that an underlying medical problem may be associated with thrush, it’s important to have a physical exam and blood tests to pin down the problem. Also, if you’re recovering from oral thrush, try to limit your intake of yeast breads, beer, and wine, because the yeast in these products may promote the growth of candida organisms.
This blog has been reviewed and approved by Dr Robert Lee,
a dental professional of 35 years
Dr Robert Lee
Dr Robert Lee is a dentist with more than thirty years of experience in the industry.
Graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery and from the University of New South Wales with a Master of Business Administration, Robert’s career has taken him all over the world – from Australia to Germany to his current position in Chicago, where he is the founder of Denticus Inc., offering strategic dental consulting.
Robert has previously worked for Procter & Gamble as the Director of Professional Scientific Relations in both the Cincinnati and Sydney offices, being responsible for external relations and scientific exchange with leading professional associations and industry thought leaders. He was also responsible for all technical and scientific training for the professional teams in North America and Australia.
Robert has been assisting the team at Oral-B by fact-checking and reviewing our blogs on dental health. You can find a list of the blogs Robert has approved below:
Types of Gum Disease: Stages, Factors & Related Conditions
When to Change Your Toothbrush or Brush Head
SAVE UP TO $40 ON SUPERIOR ORAL HEALTH
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