Thrush

What is it? Candida albicans, or thrush, is a yeast or fungal infection in the mouth. Typically, the bacteria in your mouth have a precise balance. However, complications from health issues, medications, dentures and other underlying causes can offer a way for thrush to flourish in the mouth.

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What does thrush look like?

Thrush looks like cream-colored lesions and can look a little like cottage cheese. There is often redness, and cracking at the corners of the mouth. Sometimes there is a little bleeding, for example, if the lesions are rubbed or scraped.

Who gets thrush?

People who wear dentures can sometimes get thrush. The dentist may be the one to diagnose it when a denture wearer comes in complaining of denture stomatitis or denture pain.
Babies, those with compromised immune systems such as people with diabetes or senior citizens, and people who frequently use steroid nasal sprays or corticosteroid inhalers can also get thrush. Patients who have recently completed a course of antibiotics or chemotherapy also sometimes get it.

How is thrush diagnosed

Thrush is usually self-diagnosed, but can sometimes be diagnosed by a dentist or a doctor. Patients often say they have a painful, burning sensation, feels like they have cotton in their mouth, and tastes metallic. They can temporarily lose their sense of taste and can have a sore throat, as well, making swallowing difficult.


Treatment

Thrush is primarily treated with oral medication (fluconazole), antifungal lozenges (clotrimazole), or medicinal mouthwash (nystatin). There are several other medications. Your dentist or doctor will choose one which is right for you.

If needed, a small biopsy sample is collected and sent to the lab.  

Patients who are suffering from thrush should use a soft toothbrush a replace it every day until the infection clears up. They should also avoid mouthwashes, a high-sugar or high-carb diet. People with diabetes should be extra-diligent about maintaining their blood sugar levels. A warm saltwater rinse can help soothe thrush, and eating unsweetened yogurt can help restore the proper balance of bacteria in the mouth. Those who use corticosteroid inhalers or steroid nasal sprays should rinse their mouth out immediately afterward. 

Denture cleaning

Your dentist will tell you how to disinfect your dentures in the event of a thrush outbreak. It’s crucial for the denture wearer to take meticulous care of the dentures, both in cleaning and storage, and care must be taken that the dentures fit properly, even if an adjustment is required due to changes in the mouth, which happens quite frequently.

Instructions for babies and nursing mothers are a little different. We encourage moms to talk to their pediatrician or doctor.

Prevention

Prevention of thrush should include a good oral care regimen, and a healthy, low-sugar, low-carb diet. Rinsing the mouth out following consumption of sweets, using a prescription inhaler or nasal spray, and regular denture care will also help.

Patients who suspect thrush should obtain treatment as soon as possible. Even though thrush is typically isn’t contagious, it won’t go away without medical treatment.