Oral thrush or oral candidiasis is an infection of the mouth caused by the fungus, Candida. This fungus is also known as yeast. It is normal for Candida organisms to live in our bodies since they are generally harmless. However, when they overgrow, they can cause infections. Such infections can spread to your tongue, gums, the roof of the mouth, and even your esophagus.
Candidiasis, in general, can affect anyone who has a weak immune system, including infants and the elderly. The reason is that in this group of people, it is hard to keep Candida organisms under control at harmless levels. Although the condition may sound a bit scary, it is a very common and easily treatable disease. While you can treat this condition with medications, you can get some relief with certain home remedies as well.
Thus, it is important that you get it looked right away because when the infection is left untreated, it can spread in your mouth and even lead to severe health issues.
Symptoms of Oral Thrush
There are a number of symptoms that could suggest and indicate that you have oral thrush. If you think you might have the condition, it is recommended that you see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. It is vital that you get an early diagnosis, so that you can get the condition treated right away.
Just review the common symptoms listed below and see if they seem familiar with something that you may have experienced recently.
- A white and creamy film coating will appear on your tongue. It may look really unpleasant! So when brushing your teeth, pay close attention to your tongue and see if there is a film coating, and if it is, then you need to consult a doctor right away.
- There will be lesions on your tongue that may become painful at times and sometimes may even bleed in contact with a toothbrush, teeth, or food. So if you find that you have several lesions on your gums and that brushing your teeth has turned into a painful affair, then you need to seek medical attention and confirm whether you have a case of oral candidiasis or not.
- The lesions on your tongue are raised lesions that may resemble cottage cheese. Make a careful examination of your tongue and if there are lesions on it that look similar to cottage cheese, then it is time for you to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Your tongue may feel sore, and this soreness may lead to difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) or painful swallowing (odynophagia). Thus, it is important that you consult a doctor right away if you experience such symptoms. If left untreated, it will spread all over your mouth and even make it excruciatingly painful for you to swallow anything.
Home Remedies for Oral Candidiasis
So, what can you do to treat oral thrush? Oral candidiasis is a benign condition, but can have severe systemic symptoms as well. Therefore, it is important that you treat the condition before it gets any worse. If you hate taking medications, then you are lucky because there are a number of home remedies for oral candidiasis.
Below are a few home remedies that you can try for oral thrush. Just remember that these home remedies are not a cure in themselves but more of a preventive measure. You still need to consult a doctor for an effective medical treatment.
Garlic contains a substance known as allicin and an enzyme called alliinase. Together, these substances form a compound known as ajoene. Ajoene is proven to have excellent antifungal properties and is known to be highly effective against many fungal strains.
Allicin in garlic is a known natural antibiotic. Aside from its antibacterial effect, it also has antiviral as well as antifungal properties. Although it has been proven that allicin has excellent antifungal properties, its exact mechanism is still unknown.
There is much research information that backs up the fact that garlic is effective in fighting Candida infections. One study carried out in 1988 proved that aqueous garlic extract (AGE) significantly inhibited the growth of Candida albicans. As an antifungal, garlic is indeed quite effective. The best part is that garlic can be used in many dishes, so eating food with extra garlic can help inhibit yeast infections.
2. Oregano oil
Oregano oil is also known to have antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and antiparasitic properties. The oil is very effective in killing bacteria and fungi in our body, and therefore is a perfect remedy for those who are suffering from an oral thrush.
A study carried out at Georgetown University Medical Center in 2011 found out that 0.25 milligrams or milliliters of oregano oil can help completely stop the growth of Candida albicans. The study also said that a daily dose of oregano oil may be sufficient enough to prevent and treat candidiasis.
Carvacrol and thymol are two naturally occurring antimicrobial agents found in oregano oil. Researchers have found out that these agents have the ability to dehydrate and kill Candida cells. Since oregano oil is a completely natural product, it has fewer side effects than other antifungal medications that you may find at pharmacies.
Oregano oil is effective in helping you combat Candida infections. There are various studies that showcase this very ability. You can use oregano oil to flavor your food when cooking or just add a few drops of the oil after the food has been cooked. With the regular intake of oregano oil, you should be able to effectively treat Candida infections.
3. Stay away from sugar
Sugary foods help the growth of yeast inside your body. Therefore, limit your intake of carbohydrates to a minimum of 60 grams per day. You can have natural foods with sugar such as fruits and honey as substitutes, but only consume them in moderation. For natural sweetness, you can always opt to use honey instead of sugar.
4. Caprylic acid
Caprylic acid is a saturated fatty acid that has several benefits including antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
It is found in foods such as coconut, coconut oil, cow’s milk, and human breast milk. This acid not only helps in controlling Candida organisms, but it also detoxifies the digestive tract and hastens the healing process. A research study published in 2011 confirmed that caprylic acid has the ability to reduce symptoms of fungal infections such as oral thrush. Try to use coconut or coconut oil regularly. You can add coconut oil to any food to help prevent a Candida outbreak.
5. Replace your toothbrush every two to three weeks
Using a new toothbrush prevents you from continuing to contract the same germs. This is a really important action that you should take as it is very likely for Candida to build on the toothbrush. When a toothbrush changes its color, it is an indication that there might be fungus on it. So before you brush your teeth with the same toothbrush, take a closer look at it, and chances are that you will find that the bristles have indeed changed color. This means that your current toothbrush is affected by Candida and that is why you need to change your toothbrush every few weeks.
6. Add cinnamon to your diet
A Brazilian study published in 2011 has shown that cinnamon has properties that combat Candida organisms. Adding more cinnamon to your diet can control the growth of Candida organisms in your mouth. Another study carried out in China in 2012 saw dramatic results when cinnamon oil was used for those suffering from Candida infections. They found out that once cinnamon oil was given to these patients, Candida cells actually burst, thereby proving the effectiveness of cinnamon in killing Candida organisms. Cinnamon is great for dental health, as it not only helps alleviate pain and swelling of your gums, but also helps prevent Candida outbreaks. Thus, make sure that you add cinnamon to your regular diet.
7. Include more vegetables in your diet
Vegetables such as carrots, lentils, beans, mung beans, and zucchini contain good anti-Candida characteristics that will help you control Candida infections in the mouth. Consult a doctor about the type of diet you should follow to help you fight such infection, and if required, consult a dietitian as well. Some of the vegetables rich in antioxidants can help you limit the spread of Candida and keep it within manageable levels.
8. Clean your mouth regularly
This may seem like an obvious remedy, but not everyone practices proper oral hygiene. Maintaining oral hygiene will help prevent and decrease oral thrush as well as any other mouth infections. It goes without saying that you need to practice good dental hygiene and that means having to brush your teeth twice a day, using a mouthwash, and gargling your mouth after every heavy meal.
9. Take extra special care of your mouth after taking steroid inhalers
Oral candidiasis is a known complication among people who take steroid medications, especially steroid inhalers for asthma. Steroids are known to be immunosuppressive drugs. Unlike typical oral medications that you take, inhaled medication is usually delivered directly to the airways. When this happens, some of the inhaled steroids are deposited on the back of your throat on their way to the lungs. The local activity of the steroids begins there and makes it a favorable site for the growth of Candida organisms, thus resulting in oral candidiasis. For this reason, keep in mind to wash your throat carefully after taking inhaled steroids.
10. Consume a healthy diet
A healthy diet is one of the keys to good health. Try to eat organic food, lots of greens, and vegetables rich in antioxidants. This should help you prevent any Candida outbreak in your mouth and limit the spread of Candida organisms. Eat healthily and choose the right type of foods to avoid getting fungal infections.
11. Consult a doctor
It is important that you consult a doctor right away to properly diagnose and treat your condition. If left untreated, Candida organisms can spread to other areas in your mouth and this, in turn, will cause severe health complications including swallowing difficulties. Make an appointment with your doctor, and in the meantime, follow some of the home remedies listed here for some immediate relief.
Just remember that home remedies, although effective, are not a cure on their own. You would still need to maintain a good dental hygiene since Candida thrives in unsanitary conditions.
These are some of the ways you can do to deal with an oral thrush. There are also medications you can take to help you fight off Candida, but these OTC medications may not be that effective on their own unless you practice good dental hygiene.
So make it a point to brush your teeth and gargle your mouth regularly, and in time, you should be able to bring down the level of Candida organisms. Go in for regular checkups, and make sure that you consult a doctor regarding your oral Candida infection.