Oral candidiasis, sometimes referred to as oral thrush, is a fungus that infects the mouth and throat. It is caused by an overgrowth of the naturally occurring fungus Candida, which is normally present in the mouth and digestive tract. The fungus can affect the teeth and gums, but this is not the primary focus of the infection.
Oral thrush is most commonly seen in infants and young children, but it can also occur in adults, especially those with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms Of Oral Thrush
The symptoms of oral thrush can vary, but they often include white, creamy patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, and sometimes the roof of the mouth. These patches can be painful and may bleed when scraped.
Other symptoms of oral thrush can include redness or soreness in the mouth, difficulty swallowing, loss of taste, and cracked or red corners of the mouth.
Most Common Reasons For Oral Thrush
Certain factors can cause the yeast to grow out of control, leading to an infection.
Some of the most common reasons for oral thrush include:
Antibiotic use: Antibiotics can kill off beneficial bacteria in the mouth, allowing Candida to grow unchecked.
Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing your teeth regularly, or not brushing them properly, can allow Candida to grow.
Dry mouth: Saliva helps to keep the mouth moist and healthy, but certain medications and medical conditions can cause a dry mouth, making it easier for Candida to grow.
Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing oral thrush, because high levels of sugar in the saliva can provide the perfect environment for the yeast to grow.
HIV/AIDS: People with HIV or AIDS are more likely to develop oral thrush.
There are several steps you can take to help prevent oral thrush:
Practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing daily, and using mouthwash to help kill bacteria and remove food particles from your mouth.
Avoid sharing toothbrushes, cups, and other personal items with others to reduce the risk of spreading infection.
Avoid using mouthwashes and toothpastes that contain alcohol, as they can irritate the mouth and make it more susceptible to infection.
Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as these can weaken the immune system and make it easier for the fungus that causes oral thrush to grow.
If you have dentures, clean them thoroughly and remove them at night to allow your mouth to breathe.
If you have a weakened immune system, talk to your doctor about taking steps to strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk of developing oral thrush.
The treatment for oral thrush depends on the severity of the infection and the underlying cause. In most cases, mild to moderate oral thrush can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications, such as lozenges, mouthwashes, and mouth rinses. These medications can help to kill the fungus that causes oral thrush and reduce the symptoms of the infection.
For more severe cases of oral thrush, a doctor may prescribe a stronger antifungal medication, such as fluconazole, which can be taken by mouth in the form of a pill or liquid. This medication is usually taken for several days to a week to help clear up the infection.
There are several alternative treatments that may be effective in treating oral thrush. These treatments may include the use of natural antifungal agents, such as coconut oil, or oil of oregano. These agents can be applied directly to the affected areas to help kill the fungus and relieve symptoms.
There are some teas that people can use as alternative ways to treat the fungus:
Tea tree oil tea: Tea tree oil has powerful antifungal properties that may be effective in treating oral thrush. To make tea tree oil tea, add a few drops of tea tree oil to a cup of warm water and mix well. Drink the tea slowly, taking small sips throughout the day.
Coconut oil tea: Coconut oil has antifungal and antiviral properties that may be helpful in treating oral thrush. To make coconut oil tea, add a tablespoon of coconut oil to a cup of warm water and mix well. Drink the tea slowly, taking small sips throughout the day.
Ginger tea: Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may be helpful in treating oral thrush. To make ginger tea, add a few slices of fresh ginger to a cup of boiling water and steep for several minutes. Drink the tea slowly, taking small sips throughout the day.
Probiotics may also be helpful in treating oral thrush. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help restore the balance of bacteria in the mouth, which can help prevent the overgrowth of Candida. Probiotics can be taken orally in the form of supplements or fermented foods (such as yogurt or kefir) to help treat oral thrush.
It is important to note that alternative treatments for oral thrush should not be used in place of conventional antifungal medication.
How Long Does Oral Thrush Last Without Treatment
Without treatment, oral thrush can last for several weeks or longer. The duration of the infection can vary depending on a person's overall health and the strength of their immune system. It is important to seek treatment for oral thrush as soon as possible to reduce the risk of complications and to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body.
Complications From Oral Thrush
If left untreated, oral thrush can lead to several complications, including:
Spread of the infection to other parts of the body: If oral thrush is not treated, the fungus that causes the infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the esophagus, the respiratory tract, or the intestines. This can lead to more serious infections and complications.
Difficulty swallowing: Oral thrush can cause swelling and redness in the mouth and throat, making it difficult to swallow. This can lead to dehydration and malnutrition if left untreated.
Disruption of the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth: The fungus that causes oral thrush can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth, leading to other infections and complications.
Weakened immune system: If you have a weakened immune system, you may be more susceptible to oral thrush and other infections.
There is no specific number of times that a person can have oral thrush. Some people may only experience it once, while others may have multiple occurrences. The frequency of oral thrush can vary depending on a person's overall health and their ability to prevent or treat the infection.
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