Is something strange happening with your taste buds? Got a problem that’s on the tip of your tongue, prompting strange white spots, bizarre tastes, and cracked lips? The culprit might be oral thrush. Don’t panic! Managing oral thrush is easy with the right combination of medical intervention, and natural remedies.
Here, you’ll find out how to recognize the signs of oral thrush and the risk factors that make you more susceptible to it. What’s more, we’ll give you a range of natural solutions for getting rid of discomfort quickly! If you’re looking for a quick and easy solution to oral candida, you’ve come to the right place.
Are You at Risk for Oral Thrush?
Thrush is a byproduct of an infection caused by a yeast germ called Candida. The mouth is one of the most common sites of Candida infections, which leads to oral thrush. Small amounts of Candida can live happily in the mouth until a change of chemistry within the oral cavity leads to an overgrowth.
Chemical changes can occur as a side-effect of exposure to certain drug treatments, antibiotics, or specific conditions (like diabetes, for example). Anyone can experience oral thrush, but your risk levels increase with certain factors, such as the following:
Risk Factors for Oral Thrush
- Being a baby. Oral thrush symptoms are common in young babies.
- Wearing dentures. Dentures require constant care. If yours don’t fit properly, aren’t removed at night, and aren’t kept clean, this could cause Candida overgrowth.
- Excessive use of antibiotics. Antibiotics can kill harmless germs in the mouth, but they don’t kill Candida. This yeast can multiply faster when there are fewer bacteria to fight against. The same problem applies to excessively using an antibacterial mouthwash.
- Poor nutrition and a high sugar diet. Sugar is an easy source of super-grow food for Candida so eating lots of carbs and sugar regularly can feed Candida and cause it to expand.
- Limited sources of vitamin B12, folate, or iron. All of these substances are effective for promoting a healthy digestive system. Without them, your internal balance can begin to falter, encouraging Candida development.
- Exposure to steroid inhalers or tablets. Steroids can promote growth of Candida yeast, making the problem worse over time.
- Dry mouth. Dry mouth can happen for many reasons, from mouth breathing to taking antidepressant medications, to having Sjogren’s syndrome. Either way, a dry mouth makes you more predisposed to Candida overgrowth.
- Having severe anemia or diabetes. People with diabetes or chronic conditions like anemia are more vulnerable to Candida infections.
- Being in poor health or having a weak immune system. Just like those with chronic illnesses, people with weak immune systems are far more likely to suffer from yeast, fungi, and parasitic infections.
- Smoking. Smoking creates an environment in the mouth that kills good bacteria but allows bad bacteria to thrive. This damages the natural balance needed to prevent Candida overgrowth.
How Can I Diagnose Oral Thrush Symptoms?
Candida albicans is a form of opportunistic pathogenic yeast (yeast that causes disease in humans) that leads to plenty of problems. Symptoms might include:
- A collection of white spots in your mouth that may join together to form larger spots. Sometimes they change color to gray or yellow, and if you wipe away a spot the underlying skin may be red.
- Areas in your mouth might be uncomfortable or sore without the presence of white spots. This happens frequently when you develop oral thrush after taking steroids or antibiotics.
- You might notice soreness or cracked skin around the outside of your mouth—mainly at the corners where the upper and lower lips meet.
- Denture-wearers could notice persistent redness or soreness under a denture.
- Many cases of oral thrush are painless. However, the condition can cause soreness that makes eating and drinking uncomfortable. Babies often drool and struggle to feed properly because of the discomfort.
- Some people notice that their taste is affected.
In severe cases, oral thrush spots can spread into the esophagus, causing:
- Pain when swallowing or talking
- A sensation of something being stuck in the throat
Babies with oral thrush can pass the infection to their mothers during breastfeeding, causing intense itching and pain in the nipples. Nursing mothers may experience the following symptoms:
- Shiny or flaking skin around the nipple
- Severe pain during breastfeeding
- Piercing pain throughout the breast
In an ideal world, we’d all keep Candida in check with our natural balance of good and bad bacteria. Unfortunately, we’re often exposing the bacteria in our mouths to factors that upset the balance. For some people, thrush can make the mouth too sensitive for regular oral hygiene, which only upsets the balance further.
Whether your symptoms are minimal or severe, it’s important to seek help, as when left untreated, some studies show that oral thrush weakens the immune system. What’s more, in people with weakened immune systems, Candida can enter the bloodstream and spread. This process can cause problems in various parts of the body, including the liver, heart, and brain.
How Your Doctor Finds Candida
You might think that diagnosing oral thrush symptoms would be easy – particularly in mouths covered with white spots. But remember, that’s not always the case. In babies, doctors scrape the baby’s tongue to detect Candida. For adults, the same tests can apply, but oral thrush can mimic the symptoms of various illnesses and diseases. Some Candida symptoms appear similarly to the earlier stages of cancer, making it difficult to pinpoint a cause.
Some doctors will suggest blood tests to examine conditions that make you more susceptible to oral thrush. For instance, they might use a blood test to check for levels of folate, vitamin B12, and iron. Occasionally, doctors will need a biopsy to confirm an oral thrush diagnosis.
Fortunately, treatment for oral thrush is usually quite straightforward. For babies, the matter can clear up spontaneously. Mothers can prevent further infection by sterilizing mouth toys and feeding equipment. For adults, it’s crucial to find the condition that causes the thrush. That might mean adjusting diabetes treatments or investing in better-fitting dentures.
For mild cases of oral thrush, the usual treatment is miconazole mouth gel. Nystatin drops can be an alternative for people with allergies. Tablets containing Fluconazole can also clear fungal infections from the body. Tablets are often prescribed for more severe cases. In complex cases, systemic treatments are offered through antifungal tablets and injections.
If you don’t respond to the typical treatments, you may need to alter your medications and your doctor may refer you to a specialist.
Remember that it is important to change the conditions that caused the Candida in the first place so that you do not get re-infected.
You Can Prevent Oral Thrush
Most of the time, overcoming oral problems is about maintaining good hygiene. Learning proper brushing and flossing techniques while maintaining a healthy diet can limit your risk of Candida overgrowth.
To limit your risk of oral thrush:
- Practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Scrape your tongue.
- Get regular checkups with your dentist. This is particularly important if you have dentures or have diabetes.
- Treat chronic health issues. Conditions like diabetes and HIV can easily disturb the bacterial balance in your body, leading to oral thrush. Make sure you take your medications exactly as directed.
- Don’t overuse mouthwashes or antibiotics. Ask your dentist if you’re concerned about the natural bacteria balance in your mouth.
- Clean inhalers after you use them.
- Limit foods rich in yeast and sugar. These will lead to extra Candida growth.
- If you are a smoker, ask for help with quitting.
5 Natural Remedies for Oral Thrush
If you can’t handle the soreness or other symptoms of oral thrush for another second, natural solutions might offer a reprieve. These solutions are effective at minimizing some of the most uncomfortable symptoms of Candida:
Various essential oils are as effective as antifungals. When mixed with water, they’re ideal for swishing around your mouth to reduce symptoms. For instance, clove oil is just as effective as nystatin—a drug frequently prescribed to manage oral thrush. Oregano oil can also kill bacteria quickly, and it’s got quite a nice taste too! A study published in 2010 found that oregano oil was a powerful alternative oral thrush treatment. Myrrh oil can kill a variety of different fungi and parasites, including Candida. Studies have found that when mixed with toothpaste, myrrh controls Candida overgrowth.
Apple Cider Vinegar Oral Rinses
Along with swishing your mouth with various essential oils, oral rinses can help you restore a natural bacterial balance. Apple cider vinegar can help to regulate the presence of Candida while restoring the natural PH level in the mouth. Since apple cider vinegar has a pretty strong taste, you might need to dilute it with water to sip throughout the day. It’s best to avoid trying to gulp it all down at once. Try this recipe for banishing bad breath with apple cider vinegar. Since a poor PH balance can often lead to halitosis (bad breath), an apple cider rinse can solve two problems at once!
Adding probiotic foods and cultured dairy into your diet can help to kill the Candida overgrowth in your body. This substance promotes the natural restoration of good bacteria in your system. In other words, it returns balance to your mouth!
Coconut oil possesses several great antimicrobial properties. The combination of caprylic and lauric acid found in coconut oil helps to kill off excess Candida. You can use it topically or mix it with food. Studies have found that coconut oil is just as effective as fluconazole (a common Candida overgrowth medication).
Vinegar and Baking Soda
Finally, one quick and easy household cure for oral thrush is baking soda and vinegar. This combination can even remove infection for mothers who are breastfeeding children with oral thrush symptoms.
For another perspective on curing candid in the mouth, read this guest post by Amie Valpone who shares her advice and experience with candida.
You Can Control Oral Candida
Candida overgrowth is a common problem for many people. The important thing to remember is that you can fight back and regain good oral health! The information outlined above will help you to get back on your feet, and overcome discomfort fast!
Dr. Mark Burhenne
Got more questions about candida/oral thrush? Ask me a question!Read Next: 4 Steps to Cure Candida in the Mouth