What is it?
Oral thrush is an infection of the mouth caused by a yeast fungus known as candida. More than half of the population will have candida present in their mouth, without experiencing any ill effects. Candida can cause problems when there is a change in the chemicals inside the mouth, which wipes out the good bacteria and allows the yeast fungus to grow and develop.
What are the symptoms?
###Children and adults Initially, you may not even notice symptoms of oral thrush. Signs and symptoms may include: * Creamy white lesions on your tongue, inner cheeks, and sometimes on the roof of your mouth, gums and tonsils * Slightly raised lesions with a cottage cheese-like appearance * Redness, burning or soreness that may be severe enough to cause difficulty eating or swallowing * Slight bleeding if the lesions are rubbed or scraped * Cracking and redness at the corners of your mouth * A cottony feeling in your mouth * Loss of taste * Redness, irritation and pain under dentures (denture stomatitis) In severe cases, usually related to cancer or a weakened immune system from HIV/AIDS, the lesions may spread downward into your esophagus — the long, muscular tube stretching from the back of your mouth to your stomach (Candida esophagitis). If this occurs, you may experience difficulty swallowing and pain or feel as if food is getting stuck in your throat. ###Infants and breastfeeding mothers In addition to the distinctive white mouth lesions, infants may have trouble feeding or be fussy and irritable. They can pass the infection to their mothers during breastfeeding. The infection may then pass back and forth between the mother’s breasts and the baby’s mouth. Women whose breasts are infected with candida may experience these signs and symptoms: * Unusually red, sensitive, cracked or itchy nipples * Shiny or flaky skin on the darker, circular area around the nipple (areola) * Unusual pain during nursing or painful nipples between feedings * Stabbing pains deep within the breast
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush and floss regularly. Replace your toothbrush often until your infection clears up.
- Disinfect dentures. Ask your dentist for the best way to disinfect your dentures to avoid reinfection.
- Try warm saltwater rinses. Dissolve about 1⁄2 teaspoon (2.5 milliliters) of salt in 1 cup (237 milliliters) of warm water. Swish the rinse and then spit it out, but don’t swallow.
- Use nursing pads. If you’re breastfeeding and develop a fungal infection, use pads to help prevent the fungus from spreading to your clothes. Look for pads that don’t have a plastic barrier, which can encourage the growth of candida. Wear a clean bra every day. Ask your doctor about the best way to clean your breast nipples, bottle nipples, pacifiers and any detachable parts of a breast pump if you use one.
- Don’t share toothbrushes.
Things to watch out for
Oral thrush can be treated using over the counter medication from pharmacies. GP should be contacted if symptoms don’t clear up within a week or two.