The Facts about Oral Thrush

Oral thrush might look scary, but it is fairly common in infants.

Oral thrush might look scary, but it is fairly common in infants and older adults.

Oral thrush is a fungal infection that most often occurs in infants, older adults and those with weakened immune systems. It’s caused by candida albicans, yeast that shows up as white patches in the mouth or throat.

We naturally have candida in our mouths and it rarely presents a problem in healthy people. Sometimes due to illness, stress or medications, the yeast multiplies, causing infections. You may be at risk for thrush if you have ill-fitting dentures, dry mouth, uncontrolled diabetes, HIV or other conditions that have weakened your immune system. Certain medications, such as antibiotics or inhaled corticosteroids, can also put you at risk.

Symptoms of thrush include:

  • Creamy white patches inside the mouth, on the tongue or inner cheeks
  • Slight bleeding or redness under the patches
  • Cracking at the mouth corners
  • Difficulty swallowing or pain
  • Fever (if the infection moves beyond the mouth or esophagus)

Your dentist can diagnose thrush by looking for white lesions on your mouth, tongue or cheeks. Your dentist or doctor can also confirm the diagnosis by looking at a sample of the lesion under a microscope.

If your practitioner believes thrush has moved down your throat to your esophagus, additional tests may be necessary, such as a throat culture, X-ray or an endoscopy of your esophagus, stomach or small intestine. Doctors perform an endoscopy by mounting a lighted camera on the tip of a tube that’s passed through the body areas in question.

Treatments for thrush include anti-fungal medications, such as oral fluconazole.

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5 Responses to “The Facts about Oral Thrush”

  1. Judy Wilson
    03/14/2016 at 12:24 pm #

    I thought that it was unusual when I saw creamy white patches inside of my son’s mouth, so it helps to know that this could be caused by oral thrush. It’s good to know that a dentist can confirm the diagnosis by looking at a sample of his lesions. I didn’t realize that it can be caused by illness, stress, or medications. Hopefully, a dentist will be able to get to the bottom of this so that I won’t have to worry about the white patches inside of my son’s mouth.

    • Caroline Jacobson →
      03/21/2016 at 10:28 am #

      We’re glad to hear that this article was helpful to you, Judy. I hope all goes well with your son!

  2. Dr. Douglas Barker
    10/10/2016 at 2:17 am #

    If whatever caused the thrush can be brought under control, the infection is likely to go away after a few days of treatment with a fungicide.

    • Caroline Jacobson →
      10/10/2016 at 10:32 am #

      Thanks for your comment on thrush, Dr. Barker!

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