We tend to think of thrush as something only babies get. Thrush is actually an opportunistic yeast infection in your mouth and more adults have it than you would think. It is also called oral candidiasis.
Thrush is most commonly seen in the elderly, infants and medically compromised individuals.
It can take on different appearances but still be a form of thrush. It may appear as a creamy white soft coating that can be wiped away to expose bright red tissue underneath. It may appear as white areas that cannot be wiped away. It may also be cracked corners of your mouth that just don’t want to seem to heal.
You may not have any discomfort with this infection or you may have the feeling of a burning mouth, tingling, metallic and foul taste.
You are more prone to developing thrush if you have had long term use of a denture or orthodontic appliance, poor oral hygiene, decreased saliva flow, or over-closure of your lips (think of an elderly person and how it can appear that they have folds at the corners of their lips).
You are more prone to developing thrush if you have a weakened immune system. Patients dealing with uncontrolled diabetes, malnutrition, stress or other medical problems are more likely to develop thrush.
If you’ve recently completed a course of broad spectrum antibiotics, use a steroid inhaler, had an organ transplant or undergone chemotherapy, you are at risk for developing thrush.
Once identified, treatment of thrush is fairly straightforward. If there are dentures or orthodontic appliances involved the appliances need to be cleaned. Ask your dentist or hygienist for details on proper techniques to kill the yeast on the appliance.
If you have reduced saliva flow, ensure you are drinking plenty of water and take products with xylitol to improve saliva flow.
If your thrush is appearing as the cracked corners of your mouth that will not heal, STOP licking them! Discard all previously used lip balm or lip stick.
If you use a steroid inhaler, brush and rinse your palate after each dose. Review your inhalation technique and consider using an inhalation chamber.
Your dentist can prescribe you the appropriate rinse and/or ointment to treat the thrush as it typically does not clear up on its own.