Oral thrush is a problem of the mouth caused by a fungus (yeast) called Candida albicans. The latter occurs naturally on the skin, in the digestive tract, and in the mouth. But sometimes external factors cause it to proliferate, causing a fungal infection, called candidiasis or oral thrush.(1)
What Are The Ways To Prevent Oral Thrush?
Some preventive actions are to be taken to avoid catching thrush in the mouth:
- No overload of antibiotics if they are not necessary;
- Maintaining good oral hygiene, but avoiding over consumption of mouthwashes which destroy the oral flora
- Good food hygiene, avoiding as much as possible consuming too much white flour and sugar;
- No alcohol or tobacco.(4)(5)
Does Oral Thrush Reoccur?
Oral thrush can always recur if the root cause remains and your immune system does not improve. The fungus is always present as a normal microflora in the body and whenever the external factors prompting the first episode returns, the infection will recur.(5)
Is Oral Thrush Contagious?
Thrush is not contagious because candida is already present naturally in the mouth and on the body. It is therefore external factors or a weakened immune system that is involved. People with weakened or compromised immune systems due to disease or immunosuppressive therapy are particularly vulnerable to Candida albicans infections.(1)
Oral thrush is manifested by whitish plaques on the tongue and reddish lesions at the corners of the lips, on the palate and the cheek lining. The patient may sometimes experience a burning sensation in the mouth or throat.
Common Causes Of Oral Thrush
You do not get oral thrush due to external infection as the organism causing the disease is already naturally present in the mouth. It is therefore external factors or a weakened immune system that prompts the spreading of the infection.
Taking long-term antibiotics or inhaled corticosteroids can upset the balance of oral flora. Yeast is not controlled by bacteria: they grow & multiply.
Pregnancy, diabetes and chronic urinary tract infections can cause oral thrush. More serious pathologies such as HIV can also be a risk factor because the patient has a weakened immune system.(2)
Concern For Infants: Oral thrush is a mild condition in infants. It is common in babies under 2 months of age because their immune system is immature and therefore more susceptible to infections. Thrush is transmitted by the mother during childbirth or breastfeeding and usually heals spontaneously within a few weeks.
It usually occurs between birth and the second month. Infant thrush usually disappears spontaneously: it does, however, require treatment if it takes longer to heal and becomes painful for the baby. It is important to wash baby bottle nipples, pacifiers, teething rings, and other items your child brings to his mouth in boiling water after each use and then rinse them in a mixture containing 50% water and 50% of white vinegar.
If you are breastfeeding, wash your nipples well after each feeding. Take care to dry them well and cover them with dry sterile compresses. If you follow these then in most cases the oral thrush will go away.(3)
Oral Thrush In Children: The symptoms of oral thrush are the same as in infants with discomfort sometimes during feeding. In general, the creamy-white deposits adhere to the lining of the mouth and break off when it is scratched, leaving a normal or a red lining. It most often appears following an infection that weakened the immune system and antibiotic treatment that modified the oral bacterial flora. One in three children is a healthy carrier of candida.
Adult Oral Thrush: In adults, oral thrush is characterized by the same symptoms but occurs in certain specific conditions such as cancer, HIV infection, uncontrolled diabetes, repeated vaginal yeast infections, taking certain drugs such as corticosteroids or antibiotics, or the presence of dentures.
Treatment For Oral Thrush
Taking antifungal suspension or tablets and the use of antiseptic mouthwashes can treat the problem in a few weeks. If oral thrush is caused by inhaled corticosteroids and mouth rinsing after using the inhaler can prevent infection.
Regarding oral thrush in infants, the treatment can be in the form of an oral gel to apply it with a finger on the infected areas of the mouth for a fortnight.
- Taylor M, Raja A. Oral Candidiasis (Thrush). StatPearls [Internet]: StatPearls Publishing; 2019.
- Porter S, Mercadante V, Fedele S. Oral manifestations of systemic disease. British dental journal. 2017;223(9):683.
- Giardino G, Cirillo E, Gallo V, Pignata C. Oral Thrush and Onychomycosis. Pediatric Immunology: Springer; 2019:371-376.
- Campos PL, Barrera JSM, Smith CT, Cancino AG. Candida sp. as a Potential Reservoir and Transmission Facilitator of Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter. 2018;21(1):45-48.
- Rahmani F, Rezaei N. Refractory Oral Thrush. Pediatric Immunology: Springer; 2019:383-385.
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