Oral Thrush: What Is It?
The lining of your mouth may end up accumulating a fungus called Candida albicans, which is a condition more commonly called oral thrush. This condition causes lesions, usually on the tongue or inner cheeks, that may appear white in colour. If you scrape your tongue regularly, these lesions can be painful and may even bleed slightly. Oral thrush, if left untreated, can also affect other areas of your mouth like the back of your throat, your tonsils, your gums and the roof of your mouth.
While oral thrush is a condition that can affect any part of the population, it’s more commonly found in people who have compromised (or weakened) immune systems, people who wear dentures, those who use corticosteroid inhalers or infants. Oral thrush can also appear in those who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments, have a documented condition of persistent dry mouth (xerostomia) or are smokers.
Oral Thrush Causes
Oral thrush can occur when a few things happen. A weakened immune system (by disease or drugs like prednisone) or the use of antibiotics that can alter the naturally occurring balance of microorganisms in the body can both be causes.
The natural, protective mechanisms can fail, causing the balance between “good” and “bad” microbes to shift dramatically one way or another. Normally, your immune system works to repel harmful viruses or bacteria, but a weakened immune system makes this harder, which can allow the fungus that causes oral thrush to grow.
Vaginal yeast infections, diabetes, most forms of cancer, and HIV/AIDS are all conditions that weaken the body and make it more susceptible to oral thrush.
Talking to Your Doctor or Dentist
Keep a list of any symptoms you’ve experienced, including anything that may seem unrelated; your medical professional will know if they’re related. This includes writing down nonmedical events such as experiencing more stress than usual, what’s causing that stress or if you’ve been around people with weakened immune systems.
You will need to make a list of any medications you are taking to share with your doctor. In addition, write down any questions you want to ask your doctor or dentist. This can help you get all the answers you’re seeking and ensure you leave your appointment feeling more satisfied, regardless of if you have oral thrush.
Lifestyle and Natural Home Remedies
If you’re currently in the middle of an oral thrush outbreak, practising proper oral hygiene like brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day can help eliminate any extra food or drink debris from your teeth or gumline. Rather than use a standard mouthwash, dissolve half a teaspoon of table salt into one cup of warm water. Rinse your mouth with the mixture and then spit it out after two minutes of swishing.
Oral thrush is contagious and can spread deep into the body, causing serious damage and preventing you from proper nutrition (if it spreads far enough) due to uncomfortable conditions internally. If you think you may be experiencing one or more symptoms, contact your doctor or dentist immediately to get a second opinion. When caught early enough, they can help alleviate your symptoms and put a stop to the infection.