Oral Thrush: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

If someday, when you look into the mirror and notice a white rash that looks strange inside your mouth, it is highly possible that you have got the condition called “oral thrush”. This condition is triggered by the fungus Candida which is commonly known as a yeast. As the name may sound, you often get this problem in the mouth, but other body parts are not exactly out of harm.

As the matter of fact, the same Candida fungus also triggers yeast infections in the vaginal area of women as well as the condition called diaper rash for infants. Also, everyone is susceptible to oral thrush; however, toddlers and babies, as well as older people or people whose immunity is weak, are the most vulnerable among all.


Causes Of Oral Thrush

You might not know but there are always some tiny quantities of the fungus Candida which lives on different parts of your body, both outside and inside such as skin, mouth, and even digestive system.

Normally, they bring no harm to healthy individuals. As a matter of fact, the fungus C. Albicans can be spotted in the mouth of approximately 75% of world’s population.


Yet, there are certain medications or illnesses such as antibiotics or corticosteroids which can break the balance and allow the fungus to overgrow, thus making people more prone to oral thrush.

However, the causes of oral thrush do not limit to just those twos, as there are a number of different factors which can also trigger the overgrowth of the fungus.

  • The oral hygiene is poor and ill-maintained.
  • The mouth is usually dry due to some specific medical conditions or medications.
  • Under cancer treatments such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
  • Smoking can significantly deteriorate your oral health.
  • Having dentures which are unfit is also bad for your oral health.

As mentioned above, young children, especially babies as well as elderly people are the most vulnerable to oral thrush. But that’s not all, people who possess underlying conditions such as diabetes, deficiency of vitamin B12 and iron, hypothyroidism, and especially HIV are even susceptible to oral thrush.

Despite having the Candida fungus in the mouth of almost everyone, oral thrush is not a contagious condition. It means oral thrush cannot be spread from one to another.


Symptoms of Oral Thrush

In adults, oral thrush can be seen as thick cream or white spots which usually occur on the mucous membrane or the wet parts inside your mouth. When oral thrush happens, the mucous membrane or mucosa will become slightly red and swollen.

Together with those spots, you will also experience burning sensation. If those thrush spots are scraped, there might be bleeding as well. Even worse, those spots can combine and become a large patch, also called plaques and they might take yellowish or grayish color.


Sometimes, those infected areas will just become sore and red without any obvious white spots.

For people who wear a denture, there might be swollen and red areas which constantly appear under the denture. Moreover, if the oral hygiene is poor and those people often forget to take off the dentures before sleeping, the risk will be amplified.


To be precise, oral thrush can be classified into 3 categories based on their appearance, even though the condition can be similar among those group.

  • Pseudomembranous: this is the most common and classic type of oral thrush.
  • Erythematous (Atrophic): in this case, you might see the condition in redraw more than the classic white.
  • Hyperplastic: also called “nodular candidiasis” or “plaque-like candidiasis” because of the hard-to-remove and solid plaque. This one is not very common and only seen in HIV patients.
  • Oral thrush can also be accompanied by lesions and those lesions are often depended on the type of bacteria.
  • Angular cheilitis: splitting or inflammation at the corners of the mouth.
  • Median rhomboid glossitis: there is a mark which is painless, red and large at the center of the tongue.
  • Linear gingival erythema: there is an inflammation band which runs across your gums.

Due to the fact that diabetes is one of the factors that trigger the overgrowth of Candida as well as the outbreak of oral thrush, it is necessary to have a low-glycemic diet in order to prevent any conditions related to Candida.


The diet with low glycemic as well as nutrient dense will gradually increase your levels of blood sugar. To be specific, the diet will contain the foods with low-glycemic index and GI smaller or equal to 55.

Moreover, the diet needs to be anti-candida as well as anti-inflammatory, or in another way, it needs to have lots of vegetables and little foods which contain mold.

Treatments Of Oral Thrush

1. Coconut Oil

It is not over-exaggerating to say that coconut oil is an incredible powerhouse ingredient that you can use to deal with oral thrush in particular and Candida in general.

The study from Journal of Medicinal Food in 2007 has stated that coconut oil can take care of fungal infections. Its lauric acid can transform into monolaurin which is beneficial for eliminating fungus, bacteria, and viruses. Also, the most recommended type of coconut oil is the organic virgin kind.

Another study from the Indian Journal of Dental Research in 2008 has found out that using coconut oil in oil pulling will help to provide an antiseptic environment.

Additionally, it can detoxify your oral cavity.

It is extremely easy to perform oil pulling. All you need to do is take 1 or 2 tablespoons of coconut oil into your mouth and swish for about 10 – 20 minutes. Do not swallow that oil as it is full of bacteria and toxins. After you finish swishing, wash your mouth using warm water. Lastly, brush your teeth normally to finish.

2. Antibiotic Foods / Fermented Vegetables

Those foods can significantly increase the microflora in your body as well as improve your immunity. For example, you can include some kimchi into your diet as it is made from fermented cabbage together with other vegetables.

Sauerkraut is another kind of probiotic food which can assist you in maintaining the balance of bacteria in both your mouth and body. Other high-probiotic dairy products such as kefir can effectively destroy the Candida and improve the balance of bacteria if you consume it moderately.

3. Cinnamon

Candida growth will be less if you can supplement the diet with cinnamon. The study from the journal Mycopathologia in Brazil 2011 has proven the anticandidal quality of the cinnamon oil. Therefore, it is certain that cinnamon can efficiently control the outbreak of oral thrush.

4. Warm Starchy Vegetables

There are some kinds of starchy and warm vegetables which can remarkably assist the spleen in expelling Candida from your body. Some of them are carrots, spaghetti squash, rutabaga, kohlrabi, lentils, zucchini, mung beans, and adzuki beans.

5. Bone Broth

This is considered the ultimate food that can incredibly improve your immunity as well as the digestive system in a very short time. As a result, people with oral thrush and Candida also can benefit from having them. You can obtain organic bones of chicken and beef from the local farmer.

After that, you need to heat them up for 30 minutes inside the oven. Then have them sit in the pot with filtered water for at least 20 minutes. Add some apple cider vinegar, herbs and vegetables, and bring them to a boil. Finally, let it simmer down and sit for about 48 hours in term of beef bones and 24 hours in term of chicken bones.

6. Caprylic Acid

There have been studies about the yeast-fighting qualities of the fatty acid from coconut oil. Caprylic acid is one of them, it can eliminate the yeast cells of Candida while detoxifying your digestive tract as well as quicken up the process of healing in case of oral thrush.

The study from the journal Acupuncture & Electro-therapeutics Research in 2011 has made a confirmation that caprylic acid can alleviate the symptoms related to fungal infections such as oral thrush and Candida.

7. Milk Thistle

This supplement can help to detoxify your liver from harmful substance due to medications which are linked to oral thrushes like corticosteroids, antibiotics or birth control pills. This one should be applied during the detoxification stage of your liver and kidneys from the anti-candida protocol.

It can help you to detoxify your body and cleanse off the heavy metals as well as internal pollutants which might weaken your immunity.

8. Natural Antibiotics

As you may know, antibiotic drugs are one of the reasons of oral thrush. However, natural antibiotics on other hands can aid you in strengthen your immunity and deal with infections related to Candida such as oral thrush.

Take allicin from garlic as an example, it possesses antifungal, antibiotic, and antiviral qualities. Or oregano oil, it is also similar as there are antiparasitic, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal qualities contained in the oil.

Other antiviral agents can be colloidal silver which can improve your immunity. Not only oral thrush, those natural antibiotics can even take care of other fungal infections such as vaginal thrush or systematic candida.

9. Essential Oils

You cannot leave essential oils out of the options when dealing with oral thrush. Among the essential oils, clove oil is a powerful option that you can consider using for the treatment of oral thrush.

According to the study from the journal Mycobiology in 2007, clove oil is just as powerful as nystatin which is also a common drug for oral thrush.

Oregano oil is quite effective in clearing infections, destroying bacteria and viruses in your body. In the study from the Brazilian Journal of Microbiology in 2010, oregano oil has been proven to possess a significant antifungal quality which is very useful against oral thrush.

Another oil is myrrh oil which also can eliminate parasites and fungus rather well. The study in 2012 has shown that using toothpaste made from herbs such as sage, chamomile, and myrrh can efficiently alleviate inflammation and strengthen the immune system.

10. Other Herbal Remedies

There is a list of herbal remedies which you can consider for the oral thrush treatment. It consists of peppermint, wormwood, black walnut, grapefruit seed extract, rosemary, Oregon grape, reishi mushroom, tea tree oil, pau d’arco, and dandelion tea.

Also, the pau d’arco tea, as well as its supplement, is said to have some significant antibacterial and antifungal qualities. Therefore, it is recommended that you have some pau d’arco tea every day to keep oral thrush away.

When To Visit The GP?

You need to get the GP advice if you have any symptoms of oral thrush. In case, it is left untreated, those symptoms will prolong and you will always feel the discomfort.

If it is getting more severe and still untreated, you are at a great risk of infection spread throughout your body and it can be lethal.

The GP can easily diagnose oral thrush through the examination of your mouth. Occasionally, there might be blood test required in order to check if any specific condition is involved like deficiency of nutrition or diabetes.

How To Prevent Oral Thrush

There are numerous activities which you can practice that can help you significantly lower the risk of developing oral thrush such as:

  • Rinse your mouth after having meals.
  • Brush your teeth twice every day using fluoride toothpaste as well as flossed or cleaned interdental regularly.
  • A check-up with the dentist regularly even when you have dentures or no natural teeth.
  • Remove your dentures every night, cleaned using soap, paste, and water, then have them soaked in the solution of tablets for dental cleaning and water.
  • Take dentist advise in case the dentures are unfit.
  • Quit smoking in case you are.
  • Rinse your mouth using water and then spit the water out later using the corticosteroid inhaler. Also, remember to use the spacer which is the plastic cylinder attached to the inhaler when you have the medicine.
  • Make sure to have every underlying condition like diabetes under control.

It is essential to equip yourself with the knowledge and information regarding oral thrush. Even though it might not be as harmful as other conditions and diseases, there are chances that it can get worse and eventually have a negative effect on your health.

Therefore, it is necessary to remember those natural tips above and practice good oral hygiene.