Oral Thrush is a condition where the fungus candida albicans gathers on the lining of the mouth. It can cause white lesions on the tongue and cheeks and can sometimes be painful or bleed if irritated. It can also be found on your tonsils or down the back of the throat. Anyone can get oral thrush but it is most common in babies, people with dentures or people with low immune systems. It is not a serious condition unless you have a compromised immune system.
Oral thrush may not even be noticed sometimes but depending on the cause it may have minor or more severe symptoms. Both adults and children may get the following symptoms:
- Creamy white legions around the mouth
- Legions that look like cottage cheese
- Bleeding if legions are irritated
- Cracking and tenderness in the corners of the mouth
- A furry feeling in the mouth
- Loss of taste
In cases where the lesions spread down your throat and oesophagus, it can be painful to swallow and feels like food is getting trapped in the throat. In babies, there can be a loss of appetite and wanting to breast feed. The infection can also spread to the mother’s breasts causing sensitive or itchy nipples, shiny or flaky skin, pain when breastfeeding or stabbing pains in the breast. It is common for babies to get oral thrush but it can mean an underlying health condition in older children so seeking medical attention is recommended.
Oral thrush usually occurs when our immune system is weak or if a person is on a course of antibiotics. Medication and other health conditions are more rarely the cause of oral thrush. The immune system balances good and bad organisms to fight viruses, bacteria and fungi but sometimes it fails causing oral thrush to develop. Illnesses that can cause oral thrush include HIV/AIDS which destroys your immune system making it easier for the infection to occur as there is nothing to fight the virus. Cancer treatments like radiation can also damage the immune system increasing the chance of getting oral thrush. Untreated or uncontrolled diabetes means there are high levels of sugar in the saliva which encourages the growth of oral thrush.
When treating Oral thrush, the main aspect is to stop the spread as soon as possible to prevent any further pain or discomfort. Adults and children who are healthy can eat yoghurt and take probiotic capsules to help stop the spread of the infection. For adults with compromised immune systems a doctor will usually recommend antifungal medication or amphotericin B if other medications are not working. Other treatments that can help are:
- Keeping up good oral hygiene
- Rinsing with warm salty water
- Use nursing pads when breastfeeding
- Try not to eat foods with high amounts of sugar and yeast
- Regular check ups at Smile Hub Dental Clinic