Oral thrush is a disease of the oral mucosa, or lining in the soft parts of the mouth, caused by an invasion of Candida fungi into the soft tissues. Read more on the causes and how it comes about.
There are several different facets in treating the condition, and these things can be divided into two main groups. The first are things which kill the fungi which have caused the problem, and the second is dealing with issues which may have made someone susceptible to the disease in the first place.
The best thing, therefore, is to follow this list of tips to bear in mind when deciding how to cure oral thrush.
1. Visit your doctor or dentist. This sounds like a patronizing thing to say, but most patients need treatment with antifungal drugs. And the sooner it is diagnosed and treated once it arise the better. Therefore a visit to the doctor or dentist is necessary as only they can usually prescribe the medication needed. He or she is also very likely to take a swab, and send it away for testing to see which of the many types of fungus is responsible. While some anti-fungals are available over the counter, it is best to get a professional diagnosis first.
The most commonly used drug treatments are nystatin, miconazole and amphoteracin, which in a straightforward cases can be spread locally (supplied as a gel, cream or mouth rinse) on the soft tissue area affected. Often this is enough in terms of effective oral thrush treatment.
In more complicated cases stronger doses, or tablets, may be needed. This may be if someone has some particular illness which means they are particularly prone to oral candidiasis, such as HIV/AIDS, among others.
2. Take care of the area. Some people find it difficult to clean their teeth, or have things like dentures which mean they are more likely to get problems. The elderly, for example, are very prone to candidiasis due to lack of denture hygiene together with a weakened immune system due to advanced age. Leaving dentures out at night and proper cleaning should therefore all help cure and prevent the situation. Lastly people with poorly fitting dentures can have problems which start in a sore area under the false teeth. This needs a mixture of extra care, but also a visit to the dentist as in tip number one above.
3. Ask your specialist. Many cases are caused by treatment for other diseases. Taking antibiotics is a very common cause, and people taking drugs for more serious diseases such as steroids for organ transplants or chemotherapy for cancer are affected. For this, of course, it may not always be possible to stop the medication which is causing the problem, and so the first port of call should be the specialist in charge of overall care. In many cases the specialist will be very familiar with problems caused by their treatment, and should be able to offer very useful solutions.
4. Smoking. This is bad. Add this to the list of 1001 other things that you can get from smoking, although the mechanism by which this happens is not clear in the case of oral thrush.
5. Check for other diseases. There are a few other diseases which can mean it’s easy to get oral thrush. They are not so common as the other causes, so only worth worrying about if you have seen your doctor, been treated, and thrush keeps coming back. Diabetes is said by some to be associated with it, but also conditions such as lichen planus and leukoplakia which affect skin and mucosa predispose people to oral candidiasis.
6. Nothing. Five percent of all babies worldwide get oral thrush, but it mostly resolves within two weeks without any treatment. So although the most common cause in terms of numbers, it is also the least serious in most cases.
These, therefore, are just some of the things to keep in mind if you think you have a problem with oral thrush. Fortunately most cases can be resolved quite quickly. As with any illness where antibiotics or antifungals are needed, be sure to remember one final tip:
7. Finish all the medication. If you stop taking antibiotics half-way through because you feel better, the bacteria that are still left learn to deal with the antibiotic, and become resistant. Antifungals are the same, and multiple resistant strains of bacteria and fungi are starting to cause serious problems all over the world. Make sure you complete the course.
Finally, learn what the causes are in your case, if you develop this infection. This is key to future prevention, which is better than needing oral thrush treatment again in the future.