Oral thrush

Oral thrush is a disease in which the yeast fungus Candida albicans affects the oral cavity.

Candida infection is not limited to the mouth, it can also occur in other parts of the body:

  • Diaper region in infants (diaper fungus or candida)
  • Vaginal fungus in women
  • Fungal infection in the intestinal tract

Anyone can be affected by candidiasis, but most commonly affected:

  • Babies
  • Infants
  • Elderly
  • People with weakened immune systems.


Causes of oral thrush

Oral thrush and other Candida infections can occur when the immune system is weakened by:

  • Illness
  • Medication.

For example, prednisone and antibiotics make the body more vulnerable because they disturb the natural balance of microorganisms that prevails there.
The defense system defends itself against harmful, invasive organisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi, while maintaining the balance between harmful and beneficial bacteria that normally populate the body.
Sometimes these protective mechanisms do not work, which favors oral fungal infection by Candida.

Risk factors of oral thrush
Newborns and children are particularly at risk, but basically anyone can be affected by candidiasis.
A weakened immune system favors fungal infestation; the reasons for this are:

  1. HIV infections/AIDS, diabetes mellitus or anaemia
  2. Taking antibiotics or cortisone
  3. Cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  4. Dentures
  5. Conditions that cause dry mouth or low salivation
  6. Smoke
  7. Poor health
  8. Organ transplant

Symptoms of oral thrush

  1. Pain in the mouth.
  2. White tongue coating and speckles on the inside of the cheeks.
  3. White coating on palate, gums and tonsils with cheesy appearance.
  4. Loss or change of taste
  5. Feeling of fur in the mouth
  6. Plaque in the esophagus that causes difficulty swallowing.
  7. Newborns may experience problems with food intake.

My patients often ask me if oral fungus is contagious; when I answer “yes”, they are shocked.
Again and again I have to remind you that a fungal infection in the mouth is extremely easy to transmit, especially in nursing mothers.
Newborns with oral thrush can infect the mother with the fungus when drinking at the breast. This then goes back and forth between the mother’s breast and the child’s mouth.

With a Candida infection of the breast, the following symptoms are noticeable:

  1. Flaky skin on the areola
  2. Deep, stabbing pain in the chest
  3. Reddened, tender, or itchy nipples
  4. Painful nipples when breastfeeding

In the case of a Candida infection on the breast, a vaginal infection is often noticeable.

Infection and transmission of oral thrush

Is oral thrush contagious?

Before an answer can be given, it must be specified that Candida albicans is a normal inhabitant of the body and also occurs in the mouth under normal circumstances. This means that it is part of the bacterial microflora of the body and is present in small quantities.
In this way, it is easily controllable by the body.
Anyone who kisses a person suffering from oral thrush increases the number of Candida albicans present in the body.
The amount can increase to such an extent that the body is no longer able to control it and as a result, the symptoms of an oral fungal infection appear.

From a purely technical point of view, oral thrush is not contagious. Simply kissing an infected person is not enough to contract a Candida infection himself; in this way, only the amount of fungi in the mouth increases and this could be the decisive factor whether it comes to a disease or not.

Diagnosis of oral thrush

Usually, the medical diagnosis is made on the basis of the typical symptomatology and appearance of the mouth.
Diagnostic imaging (e.g. magnetic resonance) or blood tests are not necessary.
Nevertheless, the doctor may order a blood analysis to detect diseases that increase the likelihood of oral thrush occurring.
For example, a blood test reveals a deficiency of:

  • Iron
  • B12,
  • Folic acid.

If the oral fungus does not respond to treatment, the doctor may take a smear, which is then analyzed under a microscope.

In rare cases, a biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis of Candida infection.
A small sample is taken from the white coating in the mouth and examined under the microscope.

Therapy of oral thrush

The goal of any treatment is to stop the rapid spread of the fungus; the best form of therapy depends:

  • age,
  • the general condition of the patient,
  • the cause of infection .

In babies and nursing mothers
If a baby is breastfed who is ill with Candida infection, mother and child must be treated together. Otherwise, there is a high probability that the infection will be passed back and forth again and again.
The doctor may prescribe a light antifungal agent (antifungal drugs) to the child, and an antifungal ointment for the breast to the mother.
Soothers and vials must be sterilized daily:

  • in the dishwasher at high temperatures,
  • in a bowl with water-vinegar solution.

After that, they need to air dry to prevent fungal growth.

When using a breast pump, the parts that come into contact with the milk should be sterilised or rinsed with a water-vinegar solution.

In healthy children and adults If adults
or children suffer from oral fungus but do not have other conditions, the following measures can help:

  • Eat unsweetened yogurt or take capsules or a solution containing Lactobacillus acidophilus.
    Yogurt and acidophilus do not destroy the fungus, but they help restore the natural bacterial flora in the body.
  • If the infection persists, the doctor prescribes an antifungal agent.

For adults with weakened immune systems, the doctor often recommends the following therapies:

  • antifungal agents; these are available in various dosage forms, as dragées, tablets or as mouthwash, which is swallowed after gargling.
    Some fungal remedies harm the liver; therefore, the doctor will probably have the blood analyzed to monitor the liver values.
    The blood tests are mainly carried out if a longer treatment is due or if there is a liver disease.
  • Amphotericin BCandida albicans can develop resistance to antifungal drugs, especially in people suffering from advanced HIV infection. This medication may be used if other medicines do not work.

As a rule, for the treatment of oral thrush, doctors prescribe drops, gel, tablets or dragées containing nystatin (Adiclair) or miconazole (Daktar).

Home remedies for oral thrush

For adults
In addition to effective medications, regular consumption of yogurt is one of the best home remedies for Candida infection in the mouth.

Yogurt contains the bacterium Acidophilus, which supports the destruction of the fungi present in abundance.
The active yogurt cultures help maintain pH balance in the body by controlling the development of the bacteria in the mouth.
Yogurt does not act directly on the fungus of oral candidiasis, yet the active cultures produced by the bacteria are sufficient to fight the fungal infection.
In this way, yogurt can have a healing and preventive effect on a Candida infection.
Only unsweetened yogurt may be eaten.

Garlic and onions
Garlic has anti-fungal properties.
Also, onions help to heal oral thrush.
You can use garlic and onions combined.

Tea tree oil
Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil with water, hold in your mouth for a minute and then spit out (do not swallow!).

Water, vinegar and salt
Mix lukewarm water with apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt and rinse the mouth until the oral thrush is gone.
You can also simply rinse your mouth with lukewarm salt water (1/2 tsp salt per glass).

Natural gargle solutions
antifungal mouthwashes help against the disease; for example, a tincture consisting in equal parts of licorice, myrrh and echinacea; Take 1 tsp of it with a little water every 3-4 hours.

For newborns

Grapefruit seed extract
Grapefruit seed extract is effective against:

  • Fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites

It can be used to treat fungal infestation in the oral cavity in children.


  • Mix 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract with 30 ml of water.
  • Soak a cotton ball with the solution and dab the mother’s nipples with it.
  • With this mixture, the interior of the baby’s mouth can also be carefully cleaned.
  • Cleaning the baby’s mouth must be done before breastfeeding; the nipples are dabbed off after breastfeeding.

Water and bicarbonate
Mouthwashes with water and bicarbonate can be very helpful in oral candidiasis.

  • Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate to a glass of water.
  • Once it has dissolved, gargle with the solution for 5 minutes.
  • Repeat 2 to 3 times a day.

In newborns, dip a sterile gauze into the jar and clean the mouth with it.
If the nursing mother has candida on her breast, she can wash it with water and bicarbonate.

Home remedies help prevent relapses.

Natural treatment of oral thrush

Regular oral hygiene
Perhaps this is the easiest way to treat oral thrush, even if it is mostly neglected.
Must be kept clean:

  • Mouth
  • Tongue
  • Teeth
  • Gums.

Thoroughly clean your teeth and tongue twice a day. This prevents bacteria and fungi from accumulating in the mouth and causing infection.

Denture wearers should make sure that the prosthesis fits well.

Diet and nutrition for oral thrush

Since the infection arises mainly due to a weakness of the immune system, the consumption of healthy and nutrient-dense foods is important.
The defence system must be strengthened and further developed.

One must follow a cleansing diet to cure the infection.
Fermented foods and sugar can worsen candidiasis in the mouth and should therefore be avoided.

What to eat?
Everyone knows that with oral thrush, relapses often occur if it is treated only with medication.
Some natural diets show excellent results and many patients have been able to finally solve the problem by making some changes in diet.

According to the experience of my patients, these are the most effective forms of nutrition:

  • Vegan diet with 50% raw food content – it is based on foods of plant origin (fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.), preferably uncooked.
  • Blood type diet – it arose after it was discovered that some foods only cause immune system reactions in members of a certain blood type. In people of a different blood type, the same food usually does not cause any symptoms.
    In principle, however, the following should be avoided:

    • cereals containing gluten,
    • milk and dairy products,
    • Pork and sausages.

What foods should be avoided?
Conventional medicine and natural diets advise against:

  • Coffee
  • desserts and pastries,
  • processed foods,
  • Fast food
  • yeast (beer, pizza, etc.),
  • Alcohol.

A balanced diet should be supplemented with sufficient sleep and regular physical exercise so that the immune system is sufficiently strengthened to fight infections.

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