Oral Thrush: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Oral thrush, otherwise known as oral candidiasis, is a localized Candida infection that occurs in the mouth. The major symptoms include creamy white lesions on your tongue and inside of your mouth, soreness, and pain.
Oral thrush is often caused by the same factors that trigger an intestinal or vaginal Candida overgrowth – for example, a diet high in sugar or the over-use of antibiotics. Candida albicans, the yeast that causes intestinal fungal overgrowth, is also the organism that gives rise to oral thrush.
The symptoms are easy to recognize, but it’s not so easy to beat the infection. You may find that the oral thrush will keep coming back until you have adjusted your diet and lifestyle to eliminate the underlying cause of the oral candidiasis.
In addition to the low-sugar, anti-inflammatory anti-Candida diet plan, there are a number of natural remedies that can help with your oral thrush. You can make an antifungal mouthwash from essential oils that will both kill the Candida yeast and freshen your breath. A therapy known as oil pulling is also an effective way to eliminate yeast from your mouth and remove the toxic byproducts of Candida.
Do You Have Oral Thrush?
The symptoms of oral thrush are easy to recognize, much easier in fact than the symptoms of a more generalized Candida infestation. Oral thrush can often develop very quickly, but then can turn into a long-lasting chronic infection if it is not treated.
Here are the main symptoms of oral thrush:
- Small white lesions that you will start to notice on your tongue or inside your cheeks
They may also spread to the roof of your mouth and your gums. Underneath the white lesions is a painful, red area that may even bleed slightly if you scrape off the lesion. Your doctor will take a look at these cells under the microscope to give a definite diagnosis.
- Damage to the skin at the corners of your mouth
The skin at the corners of your mouth may redden or crack slightly. It may hurt when you smile widely or laugh.
- Pain inside your mouth
The lesions can be sensitive to touch, and you may also experience pain in your tongue and gums.
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
This is a sign that the infection has spread down your into your throat (esophageal candidiasis). If the infection worsens further you may even develop a fever.
- Unpleasant tastes
You may have a consistent, unpleasant taste in your mouth. This might even change the flavor of the food that you eat, to the point where you might not even enjoy your favorite foods any more.
What Causes Oral Thrush?
Many of the triggers for oral thrush are similar to the causes of Candida overgrowth. A high sugar diet has just the same effect on your mouth flora as it does on your intestinal flora. Antibiotics will disturb the balance of microorganisms in your mouth, just the same as they will alter your gut flora.
However, there are a few other causes of oral thrush that are more unique and localized. Common examples might be dentures or a regular smoking habit. These can both change the environment in your mouth and allow an opportunistic pathogen like Candida albicans to thrive.
Here are the main causes of oral thrush that you need to be aware of:
- A high sugar diet
- Medications that cause dry mouth
- Weakened immunity
If your baby has oral thrush, consider the possibility that it might have been passed on from a vaginal Candida infection. The Candida yeast that causes vaginal candidiasis is exactly the same microorganism that causes intestinal Candida overgrowth and oral thrush.
How Can You Treat Your Oral Thrush Naturally?
Eliminate The Risk Factors
The first step to treating your oral thrush is to address anything whatever it is that might be causing it. Take a look through the causes above and see if any of those correspond to your own situation. Do what you have to do to eliminate them.
Are you a regular smoker? If your smoking habit is causing regular oral thrush, then it’s time to stop. What about your diet? Cutting out sugary foods can help to prevent Candida outbreaks, both in your mouth and elsewhere. Do you often take antibiotics for viral infections or flus? Try this instead: rest up, drink lots of water, try some natural remedies, and stay off the antibiotics wherever possible. Probiotics can help to rebalance the bacteria in your gut, and support your immune system in other parts of your body too.
By eliminating some of these risk factors, you might find that your overall health improves too. The lifestyle and dietary choices that contribute to oral thrush can also trigger an intestinal Candida overgrowth. A happy side effect of fixing your oral thrush can be that you see improvements in your digestion, immunity, and much more.
Essential Oils Can Help
In addition to eliminating risk factors for your oral thrush, you’ll need something to treat the local infection. Your doctor may prescribe medication, but many find that these are very hard on the liver. If you are a frequent oral thrush sufferer, natural therapies can be a gentler option.
Note: These topical solutions will relieve your symptoms, but remember that they will not address the underlying imbalances that are causing your symptoms. Whichever therapy you choose, you should still combine it with an anti-Candida diet and, ideally, some probiotics too.
Here’s a fantastic way to use essential oils to combat your oral thrush. Simply add 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil to water, and you have a mouthwash that will kill the Candida yeast in your mouth and freshen your breath too. Spearmint essential oil is another great option that has much the same effect. You can also use combinations of essential oils – try a few drops each of tea tree oil, lavender oil, and chamomile oil.
Swish the mixture around in your mouth just like a normal mouthwash, and be sure to spit it out rather than swallowing it. These mouthwashes are gentle on your body and you can use them several times a day. Continuing to use a good herbal mouthwash after your thrush has gone will also prevent it from returning.
Oil pulling was featured in early Ayurveda, and was first mentioned in Ayurvedic literature around 2300 years ago. It’s a very simple process, and it can help to quickly eliminate the symptoms of oral thrush.
The theory behind oil pulling is that swishing certain oils round in your mouth can help to ‘pull’ toxins from your system. Thousands swear by it, although there is very little scientific evidence to support its use. However, by using a different oil you can get all the possible benefits of oil pulling, plus the added bonus of a natural antifungal to destroy the Candida albicans in your mouth.
Oil pulling is usually done with sesame oil or sunflower oil. If you have oral candidiasis, try using coconut oil or olive oil instead. These are two super-healthy oils with strong antifungal properties. As you swish the oils around in your mouth, they will be constantly attacking the Candida and, hopefully, relieving those troublesome symptoms.
Oil pulling is a very simple process, but there are a few rules that you do need to follow.
After brushing your teeth in the morning, put one tablespoon of virgin coconut oil or olive oil in your mouth. Now swish it around, just like mouthwash. Be sure to push the oil all around your mouth, – between your teeth, under the tongue, across the roof of your mouth. Do this for at least 10 minutes if you can, after which the oil should have thinned and turned a milky color. Now spit it out and rinse out your mouth with salt water.
Here are a few points that you need to remember:
- Do oil pulling on an empty stomach.
- Don’t swallow the oil! By the time you finish swishing, it’s full of dead Candida cells and toxins. Remember to spit it out.
- Don’t gargle with the oil (for the very same reason).
If You Have Oral Thrush, You Might Also Have Intestinal Candida
Is your oral thrush connected to an intestinal Candida overgrowth? If you’re suffering from digestive symptoms, fatigue or brain fog, there might be more going on than just an infection in your mouth. The same risk factors and behaviors that lead to oral thrush can also trigger a Candida overgrowth in your gut.
Fortunately, finding a long term to both is possible with a combination of low-sugar diet, probiotics, and antifungals. For lots more information on how to treat Candida, whether it’s in your mouth, gut, or elsewhere, take a look at my Ultimate Candida Diet treatment program.