Certain situations can weaken the immune system or change the normal bacterial balance in the mouth or body. These changes increase the risk of thrush. Other factors include:
Health conditions such as:
- HIV infection
- Certain types of cancer
Certain medications such as:
- Oral or inhaled corticosteroids
- Medications that treat psychiatric conditions
Imbalance of healthy bacteria in the mouth which can be caused by:
- Wearing dentures or mouth guards
- Prolonged illness
- Conditions that cause a dry mouth
In some cases, you may not have symptoms. In those that have symptoms, thrush may cause:
- White or red patches on the inside of the cheeks or tongue that may or may not come off when rubbed
- Sore mouth or throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Differences in taste
- Fissures or cracks in the mouth
Thrush can spread beyond the mouth. Complications include infections that spread to the:
- Esophagus—the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach
- Urinary tract
- Whole body— sepsis causes multiple organ failure and death
The goal of treatment is to restore the normal balance of bacteria and yeast in the mouth. If any underlying conditions contribute to thrush, they will also be treated.
Antifungal medications are used to treat thrush. Medications come in the form of tablets, rinses, or lozenges that dissolve in the mouth.
If you wear dentures, clean and brush them daily. You also need to clean the inside of your mouth and tongue with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Proper Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene practices may aid in healing. This includes:
- Rinsing your mouth out with salt water
- Gently scraping off patches with a toothbrush
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day
- Flossing your teeth at least once a day
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Oral Candidiasis—Adult)
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