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Oral thrush is a condition that causes slightly raised, creamy white lesions in the mouth. In some cases, the tonsils, roof of the mouth, back of the throat, and gums can also develop it. It typically occurs on the cheeks or tongue.

Oral thrush is usually not a serious condition, but it can be uncomfortable and difficult to treat. If you think you might have oral thrush, it's important to see your dentist or doctor so they can diagnose and treat the infection.

What Causes Oral Thrush?

The digestive system, mouth, and even most people's skin often have trace quantities of candida. A number of things can cause Candida to overgrow though, including:

  • Dentures that don't fit well or that aren't cleaned properly
  • Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids or antibiotics
  • Dry mouth
  • Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products

Oral thrush is also dangerous for those who use inhalers or steroid medications.

Conditions that can cause candida reactions include:

  • Cancer
  • HIV infection
  • Being in poor health
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy
  • Unmanaged diabetes
  • Dry mouth
  • A vitamin B12, folate, or iron deficiency
  • Smokers and people who vape
  • Excessive use of oral antibacterial rinse
  • Having severe anemia

Common Symptoms

The most common symptom of oral thrush is white lesions on your tongue and inside your cheeks. These lesions can sometimes look like cottage cheese. They may be painful and make it difficult to eat or swallow. Other symptoms include:

Other symptoms may include:

Treatment Options

Oral thrush can usually be treated with antifungal medication prescribed by your dentist or doctor. This medication comes in liquid form or lozenges and is usually taken for two weeks. In some cases, a longer course of treatment may be necessary. Speak to your dentist or doctor about how long you need to take the medication for.

In addition to medication, there are a few things you can do at home to help clear up oral thrush:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Gently scrape your tongue with a tongue scraper every day
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