Oral thrush also called oral candidiasis (kan-dih-DIE-uh-sis) is a condition in which the fungus Candida albicans accumulates on the lining of your mouth. Candida is a normal organism in your mouth, but sometimes it can overgrow and cause symptoms.
Thrush (oropharyngeal candidiasis) is a medical condition in which a yeast-like fungus called Candida albicans overgrows in the mouth and throat. Thrush may be triggered to occur by a variety of factors, including illness, pregnancy, medications, smoking, or dentures.
The infection is typically mild and rarely causes serious problems. But in people with weakened immune systems, it can spread to other parts of the body and cause potentially serious complications.
Symptoms of oral thrush
In its early stages, oral thrush may not cause any symptoms. But as the infection gets worse, one or more of the following symptoms may develop:
- A cotton-like sensation in your mouth
- Dry, cracked skin at the corners of your mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- White or yellow patches of bumps on your inner cheeks, tongue, tonsils, gums, or lips
- Slight bleeding if the bumps are scraped
- Soreness or burning in your mouth
- A bad taste in your mouth
- A loss of taste
Causes of oral thrush
- Certain medications
- Cancer treatment
- Conditions that weaken your immune system, such as leukemia and HIV
The following home remedies, used in addition to antifungal medications, may help relieve symptoms of the infection.
Probiotic yogurt contains live, “good” bacteria cultures that may help treat oral thrush.
The cultures don’t kill Candida. Instead, they stop its growth. They may also help restore the proper balance of good to bad bacteria in the mouth.
Since it’s soft, yogurt is also a great food to eat if you’re having trouble swallowing due to painful mouth and throat lesions.
How To Use
- Eat yogurt a couple of times daily at the first sign of oral thrush.
- Choose unsweetened varieties since Candida thrives on sugar.
- If you don’t like yogurt, you can get the same benefits by taking a daily probiotic supplement.
Rinsing your mouth with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may help treat oral thrush.
In a 2009 study, researchers looked at the effectiveness of sodium bicarbonate as a disinfectant of Candida albicans adhered to acrylic resin. The test was meant to simulate the daily disinfecting of dentures.
Researchers concluded that, although not the most effective form of disinfectant, baking soda was a “viable alternative.”
How To Use
- Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water.
- Swish the rinse throughout your mouth.
- Spit out the rinse.
Salt has antiseptic, cleansing, and soothing properties. This makes it a common home remedy for many oral problems.
Rinsing your mouth with saltwater could help relieve symptoms of oral thrush.
How To Use
- Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water.
- Swish the solution throughout your mouth.
- Spit out the salt solution.
Lemon juice is thought to have antiseptic and antifungal abilities that help it fight against the fungus that causes thrush.
According to a small 2009 study, lemon juice was found to be a more effective treatment for oral thrush than gentian violet among people with HIV. Since the study is small, more research is needed.
How To Use
- Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon to 1 cup of warm or cool water.
- Drink the mixture, or use as a mouth rinse.
Some people apply lemon juice directly to thrush lesions, but the lemon’s acidity may cause burning and irritation.
Turmeric gets its vibrant yellow color from curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful compound thought to have anti-inflammatory abilities.
According to a 2010 study on mice, curcumin may treat oral thrush. The study found curcumin to be an antifungal against both albicans and non-albicans species of Candida, especially when combined with piperine.
Piperine is a compound found in black pepper that helps the body absorb turmeric. Further research is needed on humans.
How To Use
- Make “golden milk” by combining 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon turmeric paste (store-bought or homemade) with a dash of black pepper and 1 cup of filtered water or milk of your choice.
- Heat in a saucepan until warm.
- Swish the mixture throughout your mouth as you drink it.
People have used clove oil as a folk remedy for oral problems for centuries. It’s still used in dentistry today as an antiseptic and pain reliever.
According to a 2005 in vivo and in vitro study on immunosuppressed rats, the main compound in clove oil (eugenol) was found to be as effective in treating oral thrush as the antifungal drug nystatin (Mycostatin).
Further research on humans is still needed, but it could work for you as a beneficial addition to your treatment.
How To Use
- Take clove oil as a dietary supplement as directed by the manufacturer or your doctor.
- You can also make a clove mouth rinse by steeping 1 teaspoon of whole ground cloves in 1 cup of boiling water for at least 5 minutes.
- Strain the solution, keeping the liquid.
- Swish the liquid around your mouth.
- Spit out the solution.
Cloves may cause an allergic reaction or a numbing effect in the mouth in some people.
Vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid) is necessary for proper immune system function. It does this by encouraging white blood cell production, which helps protect your body against infection.
It also helps these cells function more effectively and protects them against harmful molecules.
A healthy immune system helps bring balance back to your body. Increasing your intake of vitamin C if you’re deficient may help boost your body’s ability to beat the infection.