Oral thrush, aka oral candidiasis, is a type of fungal infection inside the mouth. It is caused by the overgrowth of yeast called Candida albicans.
Candida is normally present in the mouth, the digestive tract, and skin of most healthy people. The immune system and the body’s normal bacteria usually keep Candida in balance. When this balance is interrupted, it can result in an overgrowth of the Candida fungus, causing thrush.
The immune system usually repels any harmful organisms like bacteria, fungi and viruses that may invade the body. It maintains a balance between good and bad microbes that may inhibit the body. However, at times, the protective mechanism of the immune system may fail, which leads to infections like oral thrush. In many cases, illnesses can cause a person to suffer from this infection too. Some of the most common illnesses that could trigger off oral thrush include:
- Vaginal Yeast Infections: The genre of fungus that cause vaginal yeast infections also lead to oral thrush. While these infections are not too dangerous, they can be passed on from a pregnant woman on to her baby, during childbirth. The newborn baby develops oral thrush as a result of this.
- Cancer: The immune system gets weakened to a great extent, by cancer as well as the various treatment therapies and medication. This in turn increases a person’s risks of developing oral thrush.
- Diabetes Mellitus: There are many diabetics who do not control the levels of sugar in their body. As a result, their saliva contains a high amount of sugar, which encourages the growth of oral thrush.
- HIV/ AIDS: The virus that leads to HIV and AIDS destroy the cells of the immune system. Because of this the body loses its ability to resist the opportunistic infections that it would normally resist. In fact, one of the first signs of HIV/ AIDS is recurrent oral thrush.
- Loss in the sensation of taste.
- Cracking around the mouth, especially at the corners.
- Pain within the mouth.
- Appearance of creamy white lesions on the tongue, gums, inner cheeks and the tonsils or the roof of the mouth.
- Bad breath.
- Dry mouth.
- Strange smell in mouth.
- Sensation of cotton being stuffed in the mouth.
- Bleeding, especially of the lesions are scraped or rubbed.
- White colored cottage cheese-like appearance on the tongue.
In some severe instances, the lesions may spread towards the esophagus, causing you to feel that food is stuck in your throat or difficulties in swallowing. It is absolutely essential to consult a doctor, as soon as any of the symptoms of oral candidiasis become evident.
If the thrush is caused by something that is reversible, such as taking antibiotics, smoking, ill-fitting dentures, or poorly controlled diabetes, these factors must be corrected as part of the treatment. Infants and children with thrush often do not require treatment. In cases that last more than a few weeks, your child’s pediatrician may prescribe an antifungal nystatin drops. If an adult patient is diagnosed with a mild case of thrush, the doctor may prescribe an antifungal mouthwash or lozenges for short-term use.
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly and maintain proper oral hygiene.
- See your dentist regularly.
- If you wear dentures, keep them clean, properly maintained, and well-fitted.
- Keep your diabetes under control.
- Quit smoking.
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet that is low in sugar and yeast.
- Limit use of antibiotics. Only use as prescribed by a physician.
To avoid thrush, you must practice oral hygiene. You should brush your teeth twice in a day and floss your mouth. Replace your toothbrush frequently as this infection is contagious.
Salt water solution is very simple home remedy for oral thrush. Dissolve few grams of normal salt in a cup of warm water and gargle. Spit it out the content and follow this process 3-4 times in a day.
You can make an effective anti-fungal mouth was at home by mixing cider vinegar and a pinch of salt in a cup of warm water. Use this mouthwash to swish in your mouth. Make sure that this mixture reaches all the corner of your mouth to avoid further re-growth of yeast.
Garlic and onion contain natural anti-fungal properties. Eating garlic or onion helps in killing the Candida spread in your mouth. Regular consumption of garlic prevents yeast infection.
Breastfeeding mothers can pass thrush to their babies during breast feeding. Ensure proper hygiene near nipple area and look for any occurrence of redness or abnormality. Use of nursing pad helps in preventing the spread of yeast infection.
Reduce the consumption of sugar as yeast organism survives on sugar. If you have oral thrush, you must stop consumption of sugary items.
Avoid consumption of fermented foods like bread, wine or beer. It will help in preventing the growth of yeast infection.
Coconut oil contains Caprylic acid which fights Candida naturally. You can take a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth, swish around and then spit it out to prevent oral thrush. Coconut oil can be applied over nipple area by breastfeeding mother to prevent spread of thrush to their babies.
Eating sugar free yogurt is an excellent remedy to prevent oral thrush.
Food to Avoid
Given below are the food items that should be strictly avoided in case of oral thrush:
- Acidic foods like vinegar
- Pistachios, peanuts and peanut butter, due to mold contamination possibilities
- Milk and dairy products like cottage cheese, frozen yogurt and sour cream
- Wheat or foods made from flour
- Soybean or other soy products, like tempeh, tofu, soymilk and soy nuts
- Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, hot chocolate and sodas
- Meat varieties like beef, veal, pork, sausage and hotdogs
- Cold cuts or deli products
- Shellfish and seafood varieties
- Condiments like ketchup, soy sauce, teriyaki, barbeque or steak sauce, salad dressing and mayonnaise
- Foods that are high in additives and preservatives
While oral hygiene remains the key to prevent oral candidiasis, eating healthy food, and exercise need to be coupled with it for the general wellbeing. Healthy body parks healthy mind. Healthy mind parks no diseases.