Oral thrush refers to an infection caused by an overgrowth of yeast fungi in the mouth that causes symptoms that may negatively impact nutritional intake and dental health. Oral thrush is most common in babies under six months of age. It is also common among kids and people who are immunocompromised (suffering from a weakened immune system). In the average human body, yeast fungi naturally exist as part of the digestive system (including the mouth) and are normally not harmful—except for when they multiply too much. When the yeast grow and multiply, they may cause irritation, inflammation and often a white cottage cheese-like buildup in the affected area. Kids and babies are prone to this condition, as their immune systems are more vulnerable than an average adult’s immune system. Moreover, oral thrush is nothing to be too concerned about as long as it is diagnosed and treated before symptoms worsen.
Common Symptoms of Oral Thrush
The symptoms of oral thrush generally include the following (but may include others not listed here):
- White, milk-colored patches on the cheeks, tongue, or the roof of the mouth that cannot be wiped away
- Redness and/or bleeding underneath the white patches
- Cracked corners of the mouth and dry lips
- Pain and inflammation in the affected area
Causes of Oral Thrush
Oral thrush has many causes, with one of the most common being a weakened or not fully developed immune system. In other cases, thrush can be spread from a mother to their child if the mother is breastfeeding and has thrush of the nipple(s). Additionally, someone who has recently taken antibiotics may also be at risk for developing thrush, as antibiotics tend to promote the growth of yeast in the body.
How to Treat Oral Thrush
Treatment of this painful and annoying condition usually includes taking the following steps (although treatment may vary in some cases):
- Visit a dentist or a pediatrician for proper diagnosis
- Treat the area with the antifungal medicine that your dentist or doctor provides
- Monitor the area(s) to ensure that symptoms are improving
- Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider if the condition worsens or does not go away
- If thrush is passed from the mother to the child, the mother may also be prescribed medication to treat an existing infection
If you suspect that your child may have oral thrush, it’s important that it gets properly diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Without treatment, this painful condition can worsen and deter children from eating, drinking, and keeping up with their oral hygiene. Schedule your child’s pediatric dental appointment with Advanced Children’s Dentistry in Garden City, NY at 516-758-KIDS today.