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Oral Thrush: Definition, Causes and Symptoms | Hawaii Family Dental

What Is Oral Thrush?

A mouth infection which is caused by yeast otherwise known as Candida fungus is referred to as oral thrush.

Candida infection is not just confined to the mouth; this can actually emerge in other body parts which may lead to vaginal yeast infections in females while babies may suffer from diaper rash.

In addition, everyone may acquire thrush but this infection occurs frequently in older adults, toddlers, babies as well as with people whose immune system is weak.

Oral thrush is not communicable. A person cannot communicate oral thrush to other people.

Fortunately, it is effectively treated with the use of antifungal medication.

What Causes Oral Thrush?

In actuality, minimal amounts of the candida fungus are present in the digestive tract, mouth and even on the skin of most healthy individuals. These are usually kept in check by other microorganisms and bacteria inside the body. Nevertheless, certain stress, illnesses or medications can agitate the delicate balance which can cause the candida fungus to proliferate swiftly and cause thrush.

Meanwhile, medications that disturb the balance of microorganisms in the mouth and which may cause thrush compose of:

  • Birth control pills
  • Corticosteroids
  • Antibiotics
  • People who are taking inhalers or steroid tablets are also at risk of oral thrush.

On the other hand, medical situations and illnesses that can trigger candida infection comprise of:

  • Cancer
  • HIV infection
  • Being frail or if a person is in poor health
  • Hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy period
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Dry mouth
  • Lacking vitamin B12, folate and iron
  • People who smoke are more likely to develop oral thrush.
  • Individuals who wear dentures that do not fit well
  • Babies may also transfer the infection to mothers at the time of breastfeeding.
  • Excessive use of antibacterial oral rinse
  • Having severe anemia

What are the Symptoms of Oral Thrush?

This commonly develops abruptly; however, this may become incessant and persist over a long period of time. The usual indication of thrush is the presence of slightly raised and creamy white lesions in the mouth area- commonly on the inner cheeks or tongue but can at times also be found at the tonsils, roof of the mouth, back of the throat and gums.

Other symptoms may include a bad taste in the mouth or loss of taste, cracks located at the corners of the mouth, redness inside the throat and mouth and a disturbing burning sensation in the mouth.

Moreover, the lesions that come with cottage cheese appearance may bleed and can cause discomfort and pain especially when the infected person brush his/her teeth or when these are scraped. In other severe cases, the lesions may disseminate into the swallowing tube or esophagus and eventually causes:

  • Fever particularly if the infection already spreads beyond the esophagus
  • In a few cases, the symptoms of oral thrush can make drinking and eat a bit difficult
  • Difficulty or pain felt when swallowing
  • A feeling that the foods consumed get stuck in the mid-chest or throat area.

Additionally, thrush may also multiply to other body parts such as in the skin, liver, and lungs. This occurs more frequently in people with HIV infection, cancer, and other conditions which impair the immune system.

Date Published: April 14, 2015

Last Updated: September 18, 2018

Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.


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