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What is Oral Thrush? Print E-mail
Written by Jessica Smith   
Friday, 30 October 2009

Oral thrush, or oral Candida, is caused by a fungus or yeast named Candida. This is the same organism that causes vaginal yeast infections. The infection occurs on the moist surfaces of the tongue, palate, cheeks, and lips. Oral Candida infections are fairly common in adults. They can affect up to 5% of newborn infants as well.

What is going on in the body?

This disease often occurs during or after a course of antibiotics. This is because the antibiotic can reduce the number of bacteria that routinely grow in the mouth. These bacteria normally keep the level of Candida fungi in check. When they are not present, the yeast overgrows.

This fungus can infect people of all ages. However, it is most often seen in newborns and the elderly unless other health problems are present.

Conditions that may contribute to thrush include:
- antibiotic treatment for any condition
- viral respiratory infections
- irritation from dentures or any other dental appliance
- diabetes
- mononucleosis, which is a viral infection
- debilitating diseases
- conditions being treated with corticosteroid medications
- cancer
- other immune deficiency diseases

What are the causes and risks of the infection?
Areas of infection can become more severely infected. They may spread to the throat or esophagus, which can be serious. Being unable to maintain a healthy diet may add to the problem. Oral Candida infection can be an indication of a serious systemic disease.

What are the treatments for the infection?

There are several types of effective medication. Some are taken orally. Others are used as a mouth rinse, then swallowed. A doctor can also treat affected areas with topical mediations such as gentian violet. Some of the drugs that can be used include:
- fluconazole
- clotrimazole
- nystatin
- ketoconazole

All of these medications must be taken under a doctor's care as prescribed.

Another aspect of treatment involves refitting or adjusting ill-fitting denture or other oral appliances. Dentures and other oral appliances should not be worn at night unless specifically recommended by the dentist.

How is the infection monitored?
Any suspicion of recurrence should be brought to the attention of a healthcare professional.


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