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Oral Candidiasis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What is oral candidiasis?

Oral candidiasis, or thrush, is a fungal infection that affects the inside of your mouth.

What causes oral candidiasis?

Oral candidiasis is caused by a type of fungus called Candida. Fungi are normally found in your mouth. When there are too many fungi, it can cause an infection. Babies and the elderly are at higher risk because their immune systems are not as strong. Newborn babies may get thrush if the mother had vaginal candidiasis during delivery. The following may increase your risk of oral candidiasis:

  • Medical conditions that suppress your immune system, such as diabetes, cancer, or HIV and AIDS
  • Medicines, such as antibiotics, steroids, or chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy to the head and neck
  • Dry mouth
  • Smoking
  • Dentures

What are the signs and symptoms of oral candidiasis?

  • White or whitish-yellow patches in the mouth that look like milk curds
  • Redness or bleeding under the patches
  • Sore and painful mouth, with cracking or tearing on the corners
  • Bright red tongue that may feel like it is burning
  • Trouble swallowing and tasting
  • Swelling under dentures

How is oral candidiasis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history. Tell your provider when your signs and symptoms started. Your provider will examine the inside of your mouth and the area around your mouth. Your provider will also rub a cotton swab on one of the patches and check it under a microscope.

How is oral candidiasis treated?

Antifungal medicine helps kill the fungus that caused your oral candidiasis. This medicine may be a pill or a solution that you gargle. Remove dentures before you gargle.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

How can I help to prevent oral candidiasis?

Brush your teeth, gums, and tongue after you eat and before you go to sleep. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. See your dentist for regular exams. Remove your dentures when you sleep, or at least 6 hours each day. Clean your dentures and soak them in denture cleaner. Let them air dry after soaking.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have trouble swallowing and your jaw and neck are stiff.
  • You are dizzy, thirsty, or have a dry mouth.
  • You are urinating little or not at all.
  • You cannot eat or drink because of the pain.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Your signs and symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.