Oral thrush is a condition of the mouth that involves an overgrowth of fungus. In many cases, it can be treated with oral thrush home remedies. Some people deal with chronic symptoms and others have it briefly and then it disappears. The good news is that it is treatable, and no matter why you have it, there's likely something you can do to get rid of it or at least ease the symptoms.
In this article, we'll talk all about thrush, what causes it, how to treat it and how to prevent it from happening in the first place. We hope this information gives you peace of mind if you have this condition and helps you get rid of it once and for all.
Table of contents
- 1 What is oral thrush?
- 2 Oral thrush home treatments
- 3 Treatments for oral thrush in babies
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 FAQs
What is oral thrush?
In short, oral thrush, or oral candidiasis, is an accumulation of yeast fungus in your mouth. The fungus that causes it is called Candida albicans. The candida fungus is a naturally occurring organism in your mouth, the problem arises it grows too much.
Anyone is susceptible to this condition, but babies and older adults are more likely to be affected, due to reduced immunity. People with suppressed immune systems or certain health conditions are also more likely to suffer from it.
Oral thrush symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of oral thrush can include the following:
- Creamy white spots in your mouth, especially on your tongue, and inner cheeks
- Raised white spots or lesions resembling cottage cheese
- Redness and soreness that can cause difficulty swallowing or eating
- Slight bleeding from lesions
- Redness at the corners of your mouth
- Cottony-sensation in your mouth
- Loss of taste
- Irritation under dentures
If you have a weakened immune system, you might also experience lesions that spread down to your oesophagus. This may result in pain when swallowing and the feeling of having food caught in your throat. If you have these symptoms of thrush, it's important not to ignore them, and to seek medical advice as soon as you can.
How does it develop?
This condition develops when your immune system doesn't succeed in keeping a healthy balance of Candida fungus in your mouth. When not stopped by your immune system, the Candida fungus increases and causes an infection.
There are several factors besides weakened immune systems that can increase your risk of having this condition:
- Diabetes: Diabetes that is left untreated can increase sugar levels in your mouth, which causes an increase in the Candida yeast fungus that causes it.
- Vaginal yeast infections: These can be passed on to your baby.
- Medications: Some medications may disturb your body's natural balance of microorganisms.
- Dry mouth: Dry mouth can lead to excess bacteria in the mouth.
- Dentures: If not cleaned properly, food can get trapped under dentures, creating a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
How can it be prevented?
Thankfully, even if you are a person more prone to a thrush infection, there are preventative measures that you can take. Some of these include:
- Proper oral hygiene: Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily.
- Visit your dentist: Your dentist will tell you how often you should be seen, normal frequencies are from 1 to 2 times per year.
- Diet low in sugar: Avoiding foods with added sugar can help cut down on Candida growth.
- Address dry mouth: There plenty of things you can do to treat dry mouth. Read our dry mouth article to find out more.
- Proper health condition treatment: If you have a condition that weakens your immune system, you should seek treatment immediately. Free treatment is available for many conditions, especially HIV, so costs need not get in the way of treatment.
Oral thrush home treatments
When it comes to at-home treatments, most can be split into two categories: Over the counter and natural remedies. Both can be effective, but if your oral thrush symptoms are severe or don't go away with natural remedies that aren't medically reviewed, it's very important that you see a doctor.
If you are worried about paying a doctor, there are various ways to find low-cost or free treatment. Have a look at our dental financing article to find out more. Otherwise, keep reading to find out more about oral thrush home treatment.
Over the counter and natural remedies
One of the most effective home remedies for thrush in the mouth are special mouthwashes made specifically for treatment for oral thrush. When you are looking for a mouthwash, you will want to find one that kills harmful bacteria while preserving good bacteria and being alcohol-free. Alcohol can contribute to a dry mouth, one of the potential causes of oral thrush. A popular option on Amazon that meets these criteria is Prevention Mouth Rinse. One customer says it helped him with his case caused by MS:
“I get oral thrush often due to my Multiple Sclerosis and have to use Nystatin so I was looking for anything that would help keep a balance in my oral health. This product has changed my life. I use it after brushing in the morning and at night. I haven't had a thrush outbreak since I purchased it. I told my dentist about it.”
Supplements in pill form
Another oral thrush home remedy that many people turn to is in the form of pills, although one should always exercise caution as these aren't always medically reviewed. These ones contain oregano leaf extract to slow the growth of yeast cells and cellulase and protease to actually eliminate the dying yeast cells. This product is made in the USA and FDA-registered (although whether that means much is debatable). To be completely safe, ask your doctor beforehand if this product could help you.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is known to have antifungal properties and is a popular natural remedy for thrush. To make a cider vinegar rinse you can:
- Mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with 8 oz of water
- Swish it around for at least 15 seconds
- Spit it out
- You can do this two or three times a day
Baking soda has been shown to inhibit the growth of yeast. To try this remedy, simply:
- Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in 8 oz warm water
- Swish around your mouth
- Spit out
- This can be done two times a day
Salt has natural antiseptic properties, making it great for dealing with many oral health problems you may have. To use salt water to relieve symptoms of oral thrush:
- Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 oz of warm water
- Swish and gargle the solution for about 20 seconds
- Spit it out
- This should be done two or three times a day
This household staple has antiseptic benefits and is commonly used to treat a variety of oral problems including mouth ulcers. To gargle with hydrogen peroxide:
- Use a 3% concentration of hydrogen peroxide
- Mix two parts water with one part hydrogen peroxide
- Swish around the mouth for 30 seconds
- Spit it out
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is used for its natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help to combat the candida fungus and prevent it from coming back again. To use tea tree oil:
- Combine 2 teaspoons tea tree oil with 2 teaspoons of water
- Swish the solution in your mouth for at least 30 seconds
- Spit it out
Coconut oil is used in an Ayurvedic practice called oil pulling. Coconut oil, in particular, has antifungal properties that will help get rid of the candida yeast fungus from your mouth. To use coconut oil:
- Place 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth (it will melt quickly)
- Swish it around your mouth for 10 to 15 minutes
- Spit it out
If you'd like to learn more about this ancient practice and its potential benefits, you can read our oil pulling article.
Anti-yeast supplements in liquid form
Anti-yeast supplements like this one by Khroma combine natural yeast-fighting ingredients to help. This particular product receives great reviews on Amazon, with one customer saying:
“Overall a great product. Easy to use and tastes good without leaving any aftertaste. After just a week of using this product, I experienced fewer sugar cravings. Also noticed a decrease in the amount of white patches on the back of my tongue in the morning. Must be doing its magic in ridding my body of candida!”
Yogurt is full of healthy probiotics that encourage the production of healthy bacteria in your mouth. The presence of more healthy bacteria helps with oral thrush treatment and brings your Candida level down to normal. To use yogurt as a treatment:
- Place 1 teaspoon of yogurt in your mouth
- Leave it there for 5 minutes, then swallow
Lemons have lots of antifungal properties and their acidity can help eliminate oral Candida yeast fungus. To make a lemon drink:
- Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into 8 oz of water
- Add honey (optional) and drink
Gentian violet is a synthetic dye that is violet in color. It has antifungal properties and is a common home remedy for oral thrush. It can be bought online, over the counter or prescribed by your doctor. To use it, simply apply it to the affected areas of your mouth with a cotton swab 2 to 3 times daily, or following the instructions of your doctor.
This vibrant yellow wonder spice has anti-inflammatory abilities that can be useful in treating oral thrush as well. You can try making ‘golden milk' to drink by:
- Combining 1/2 teaspoon turmeric paste with a dash of black pepper to 1 cup water or milk
- Heating the mixture in a saucepan
- Swishing it around as you drink it
Oregano oil has antifungal and antimicrobial properties for treating this condition. To use:
- Add 3 to 6 drops of oregano oil to 8 oz of water
- Drink the solution
Vitamin C helps to increase the production of stomach acids and enhances your immunity, stopping the growth of the virus in your mouth. The easiest way to up your Vitamin C intake is to take vitamin C capsules.
Aloe vera is a household remedy known for its antifungal properties and its ability to soothe. You can simply take some gel from an aloe vera plant and apply it to your tongue and the inside of your cheeks once or twice a day. If you don't have a plant at home, you can buy Aloe Vera water online.
Garlic contains allicin which is a powerful antifungal antiviral and antibiotic. To fight it with garlic, you will need to chew on a raw garlic glove once or twice a day. This is not a recommended treatment if you plan on going on any first dates!c
That was a lot of home remedies! Have a look at the following table for a summary of some of the most common:
You can also watch the video below of Dr. Nemeth going through some home remedies for oral thrush, and then what to do if those don't work:
Treatments for oral thrush in babies
We've gone over the best home remedies for thrush in adults, now it's time to talk about what to do about it in babies' mouths.
You'll find that some of the same natural remedies for adults are also recommended for children. These include applying a diluted cider vinegar application to the area and introducing yogurt into your baby's diet, as found by this study, because the lactobacillus in yogurt can help restore a healthy bacteria balance in your baby's mouth.
When it comes to your baby, however, the best thing to do is to see your child's physician. They'll be able to recommend the best course of treatment, whether it be prescription oral drops or a simple home remedy.
If you have this condition, there's no need to panic. As you can see, there are plenty of natural home remedies for curing the overpopulation of Candida fungus. However, we also recommend that you see a doctor if you have this condition, as it could be caused by an underlying health condition. Chances are, no matter why you have thrush, there are changes to your lifestyle you can make, or remedies you can use, to make the symptoms go away. It might be as simple making time to practice good oral hygiene.
How can you cure oral thrush fast?
If you're wondering how to get rid of thrush quickly, the fastest way to cure oral thrush is to go to your doctor so they can prescribe you a fast-acting anti-fungal. If you want to cure it at home, or using natural remedies, you can try any of or a combination of the remedies mentioned above. However you should always consult with your doctor before starting any treatment and if your symptoms don't go away, you should continue to seek medical help.
Can you treat oral thrush over the counter?
Oral thrush in some cases can be treated with over the counter antifungal mouthwash or antifungal supplements. But if that doesn't work, make sure to see your doctor, who can write you a prescription.
Is oral thrush contagious?
Be honest, what you really want to know is if you can kiss someone and either get or give oral thrush. The answer is: not necessarily. That's because yeast is present in everyone's mouth, so in order to develop thrush, you have to have an oral environment that is thrush-friendly. That being said, if you have oral thrush or you know someone else has oral thrush, it's best to put the kissing on hold until the problem has been resolved.
Additionally, in some cases, an infant who has oral thrush can spread the yeast to their mother's nipples by breastfeeding and vice versa.