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Thrush is an oral fungal infection but isn’t contagious and is treatable with antifungal medication. Thrush is also known as oral candidiasis or candidosis because it results from a group of yeasts known as Candida.

What are the symptoms of thrush?

Oral thrush may cause the following symptoms.

  • A painful, burning sensation in the mouth
  • An unpleasant taste or loss of taste in the mouth
  • White patches or plaques in the mouth that you can wipe off but leaves red areas that may bleed a little
  • Cracks at the corners of the mouth
  • Redness inside the throat or mouth

Sometimes, oral thrush symptoms make drinking and eating difficult. When left untreated, its symptoms will persist, resulting in continuous discomfort in the mouth.

In severe cases, untreated thrush may cause the infection to spread to other body parts. Your doctor will examine your mouth to diagnose oral thrush. You may also need blood testing to check for certain conditions linked to oral thrush, such as nutritional deficiencies and diabetes.

What can cause oral thrush?

Low numbers of Candida are naturally in the digestive system and mouth. They do not usually cause any problems, but if the fungi multiply, oral thrush results.

This may happen for some reasons, including:

  • Having poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Taking inhaled corticosteroid medication for asthma
  • Taking a course of antibiotics, usually at a high dose and over a long period
  • Wearing dentures, especially if they are ill-fitting
  • Dry mouth, either from taking medication or a medical condition
  • Radiotherapy or chemotherapy to treat cancer

Older adults, young children and babies are at a high risk of developing oral thrush, including people with underlying health conditions such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), HIV, diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency or iron deficiency.

Since most people already have Candida in their mouth, oral thrush isn’t contagious, meaning you cannot pass it to others.

What is the treatment for oral thrush?

Oral thrush is easily treatable with antifungal medicines. The medication is available in liquid or gel form to apply directly inside your mouth (topical medication), but capsules and tablets are also available.

You may need to use the topical medication several times daily for 7 – 14 days, while tablets and capsules are taken once daily.

These medications may not cause side effects, but some people may feel sick (nausea), bloating, diarrhoea, tummy (abdominal) pain and vomiting. If corticosteroids or antibiotics are the possible cause of your oral thrush, your doctor may change the medication or mode of administration or reduce its dosage.

How to prevent oral thrush

You can take different steps to reduce your risk of developing oral thrush. They include:

  • Rinse your mouth after meals
  • Brush your tongue, gums, and inside your mouth using a soft-bristled toothbrush twice daily, even if you wear dentures or have few or no teeth
  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups, even if you have no natural teeth or wear dentures
  • Brush your teeth at least two times daily with fluoride-containing toothpaste
  • Floss regularly
  • Remove your dentures before sleeping and clean them with soap, paste, and water before soaking them in denture-cleaning tablets and water.
  • Stop smoking
  • Ensure any underlying condition, like diabetes, is well controlled
  • Rinse your mouth water and spit out after using a corticosteroid inhaler and use a spacer – this is a plastic cylinder attached to the inhaler) when taking your medicine
  • Visit your dentist if your denture doesn’t fit properly.

If you are getting treatment or have a condition that may increase your risk of oral thrush, your doctor may recommend a course of antifungal medication to prevent oral thrush.

If you experience symptoms of oral thrush, visit McKennell Dental Practice to have our dentist examine your mouth and recommend the right care. Contact us today at 020 7834 8802 to schedule an appointment with our dentist.