What is Oral Thrush?Oral thrush is an infectious disease that affects the lining of the mucosa around the tongue, gums and inner cheeks. It is caused by yeast called Candida albicans that affects infants usually. Adults may also get affected by this infection due to other underlying medical conditions. It is also called as oral candidiasis.
What are the Causes of Oral Thrush?Oral thrush mostly affects infants as they tend to have a weaker immune system. Candida albicans is a common fungus found in the skin, mucous lining of the mouth and intestine. But sometimes it can overgrow and cause white milky lesions on the mucosa, which are painful. People with weakened immunity and suppressed digestive system are more prone to this disease. The disease can spread from the baby to the mother during breastfeeding. The yeast grows around the nipple and causes severe pain deep within the breast.
Adults are more susceptible to oral thrush infection if they experience any of these diseases like AIDS, diabetes, asthma etc. Excessive smoking, overuse of antibiotics can reduce immunity, therefore, increasing the risk for infection. Over the counter treatment for oral thrush includes antifungal drugs. One must always consult a doctor if an infant develops a thrush and take proper medication.
Home Remedies for Oral ThrushThough medicines can treat the infection, they may cause side effects in babies and immune-suppressed people. Therefore, one can try using these natural remedies to treat oral thrush effectively at home,
- Good Oral Care: Oral hygiene is important to keep infections at bay. Practice proper brushing and flossing techniques to keep your mouth clean and hygienic. Good oral hygiene prevents growth of fungus and reduces the risk of infections. In case of an oral thrush, it is advised to change the toothbrush frequently as the infection might reoccur via toothbrush. Ensure proper oral hygiene for infants also.
- Salt Water: Salt water can make an ideal remedy for oral thrush. Gargle with warm water with a teaspoon of salt in it to soothe pain and clear off microbes from oral cavity. Do not swallow the contaminated water. Follow this regime 3-4 times in a day for maximum benefit.
- Vinegar: It is a good antiseptic that helps reduce yeast infection and prevents oral thrush from spreading further. Make a mixture of apple cider vinegar with warm water and a pinch of salt. Wash your mouth properly with this mixture to stop fungal growth.
White vinegar can also help in reducing infection. Breastfeeding mothers can apply a mixture of white distilled vinegar and baking soda on their nipples. This clears Candida growth and prevents spreading of oral thrush to babies.
- Probiotics: Good bacteria in the stomach are found to control overgrowth of Candida albicans. Suppressed digestion or increased acidity levels may reduce the flora of digestive tract. Probiotic supplements and drinks increase good bacteria in the gut which restrict the growth of infectious yeast cells. Acidophilus supplements help build a natural immune system against growth of Candida in the body preventing infection.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil has antiseptic properties making it suitable to treat oral thrush. Swab oral cavity with pure virgin coconut oil 2-3 times a day to reduce infection. Caprylic acid in coconut oil acts as an antifungal agent preventing yeast growth. It helps soothe pain and soreness in the mouth. Applying coconut oil on breastfeeding mother’s nipples can prevent infection.
- Cold Liquids: Cold and iced drinks help soothe pain and discomfort due to oral thrush. Drink ice water, iced tea or chilled juice to relieve pain and reduce infection. Thrush on the tongue is very discomforting and causes problems during eating and swallowing foods. Drinking cold beverages and eating cold foods like ice cream help ease the pain and allow comfortable eating.
- Yogurt: Yogurt acts as an antifungal and a probiotic supplement. Swabbing yogurt around the oral area in babies will help reduce the growth of Candida. Adults are advised to include unsweetened yogurt in their diet, preferably fresh and homemade, to reduce infection. Sweetened packed yogurts can induce yeast growth, as sugars in it act as food for yeast cells.Yogurt not only provides good bacteria that kill infection but is also good for improving digestion. Better the digestion, lesser the infection.
- Garlic and Onion: Natural antifungal properties of garlic and onion help remove the infection by killing yeast cells. They are effective against Candida and prevent its growth. Regularly consume 1-2 cloves of garlic with water or include garlic and onion in daily diet to keep off oral thrush.
- Contaminated dentures are a common cause of oral thrush in adults. Maintain its hygiene to avoid any fungal infections. Clean dentures by soaking them in chlorhexidine solution overnight to prevent yeast infections.
- Avoid fermented foods like bread, wine, beer as it can worsen the oral thrush
- Reduce sugar intake in your diet.
- Breastfeeding mothers should use nursing pads to avoid contamination.
- Ensure proper cleaning of feeding bottles regularly.
- Wash your mouth and brush your teeth after using asthma inhalers.