Thrush, also known as candidiasis or moniliasis, is a fungal infection in the mouth that’s characterized by the rapid reproduction of yeast. The condition may begin as nothing more than a few white sores on the tongue and/or cheek, but it can quickly spread throughout the mouth if not properly treated.
In severe cases, the white bumps associated with this condition can make it difficult for individuals to chew, swallow, or brush their teeth. Any pressure placed against these bumps may create signals of pain. When a person stops brushing his or her teeth due to the presence of painful thrush bumps, the condition may become progressively worse.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 5-7% of all babies younger than one month of age will develop thrush (source). While it’s far more prevalent in babies, adults and the elderly may also develop this fungal infection.
Thrush is caused by the reproduction of the fungi candida. This fungus is commonly found in the mouth, digestive system, and the skin, even in people who do not show symptoms. When elements promote rapid reproduction of candida, such as a weakened immune system or the use of certain prescription drugs, symptoms may manifest.
Risk factors known to play a role in the formation of thrush include the following:
- Age (babies and the elderly have a higher risk of developing thrush).
- The use of poorly fitted dentures
- Topical or systemic corticosteroids
- Chronic dry mouth and/or inadequate saliva production
- Stress (linked to immunosuppresion)
Good oral hygiene plays an important role in the prevention of thrush. This includes brushing teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, and complimenting these efforts with an ADA-approved mouth rinse. By maintaining good oral hygiene, both children and adults can discourage the thrush fungi from reproducing.
Having your teeth cleaned and inspected by a professional dentist is another important step in the prevention of thrush. In a typical cleaning, the dentist will scrape off hard, stubborn plaque—plaque that may promote the formation of thrush.
But there are treatment options available for children and adults suffering from thrush. Treatments vary depending on the patient and his or her condition but may include the use of an antifungal mouthrinse, syrup, lozenges, or pills. Some people have reported success treating mild cases of thrush by consuming yogurt, as the natural probiotics fight the infection.
If you have any questions about your oral health or if you would like to schedule an appointment with a dentist in Little Rock, contact us today!