Oral thrush is one of the most common and easily treatable types of oral infection. It affects everyone from babies to the elderly, and it can occur in people who are otherwise completely healthy.
Because it is so common, it’s not unheard of for a dentist to mention it while they are performing an oral exam. If it’s the first time the patient is diagnosed with this infection they will likely be concerned, but when it comes to oral infections, this is one of the least dangerous.
What Is Oral Thrush?
Thrush, also known as yeast infections, can occur in any damp area of the body. It is a fungal infection, caused by the development of yeast inside the mouth and on the tongue, and is Also known as oral or oropharyngeal candidiasis.
Candida occurs naturally in the body, but there are some instances when it proliferates out of control. In the event of an infection, a diaper rash (in the case of babies), antibiotic usage, and even stress can upset the balance of bacteria in the body, causing the overgrowth of this fungus.
In some cases, diseases like diabetes and HIV can also trigger a particularly persistent type of oral thrush, and smoking and denture use are two examples of lifestyle factors that can cause the condition.
Symptoms of Thrush
Thrush usually appears as a whitish coating on the mucous membranes inside the mouth. These may be mostly painless, or they can be accompanied by various levels of itching and pain. Serious cases can spread into the esophagus and elsewhere in the body.
If thrush spreads, it can cause pain elsewhere, difficulty swallowing and other symptoms. It is extremely rare for oral thrush to spread, however, and when it does it’s almost exclusively in patients with compromised immune function.
Oral Thrush Treatment
Oral thrush treatment is usually uncomplicated and minimally invasive. Patients are prescribed anti-fungal medication in pill form, mouthwashes, gels or lozenges. Oral thrush treatment usually takes about two weeks, and is often accompanied by further testing to rule out other problems that may be causing a candida flare up.
Can Oral Thrush Be Prevented?
In many cases, yes, the condition can be prevented in various ways.
- Oral hygiene is a big factor. So, brush and floss several times a day, use a gentle mouthwash, and don’t skip your dental checkups!
- If you have a disease like diabetes, which make one predisposed to oral thrush development, it may be wise to have more frequent dental and medical checkups.
- If you have an underlying condition, make sure that you follow your treatment regime. Not only can chronic diseases trigger thrush outbreaks, they can make them harder to treat too.
- Don’t use mouthwashes too frequently. While they are good for keeping bacteria at bay on the teeth and gums, they can also throw necessary bacteria into disarray, which can trigger an oral thrush episode.
- Don’t smoke. This is not only good to prevent thrush, it is one of the most important things you can do for your overall oral health!
- Make sure inhalers and CPAP machines are cleaned thoroughly before use.
Oral thrush treatment is generally very simple, but if you have this condition it may delay other, more complicated treatments, as your dental practitioner errs on the side of caution. Prevent it if you can, and if you can’t, follow the treatment plan closely.
For more information on treating thrush and other oral infections, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Tom Shackleton at 403-242-9952 today.