The "fungus among us" is both trite and true. Trite because most of us have either said it or heard it before. True because thrush is actually a yeast fungus and it grows in all of us like a plant. But you may hear about oral thrush under less common names:
Thrush produces whitish, velvety or curd-like patches in your mouth and on your tongue. Beneath this fungal carpet, you might find reddened, bleeding tissue. Other symptoms include angular cheilitis (cracking at the corners of the lips). If thrush infection invades your throat, swallowing becomes difficult.
Why Declare War on a Plant?
Perhaps you already know that our bodies wage daily battles with bacteria. We usually label bacteria bad, but biological relationships are more complicated than that.
Here's why: Bacteria keep oral thrush in check, establishing balance in our mouths. Thrush infection erupts when the bacteria allow OPC to reproduce too quickly. That's when a yeast infection latches onto the mucus membranes.
So ... is thrush mouth contagious?
We'll answer that in a minute. Right now there are more important things to worry about, like the fact that oral thrush may be an early warning sign of cancer or a consequence of diabetes. If you get thrush mouth regularly, you should see a doctor.
Is That Candida in Your Mouth?
There are several groups that get thrush more often than others.
Infants - Newborn babies often get thrush mouth because their immune systems aren't fully operating and they're exposed to yeast during delivery. Infants usually develop thrush between the fourth week and nine months of life. If your baby gets diaper rash while having thrush mouth, you can probably count the rash as a consequence of thrush infection.
Don't panic though, unless your baby has problems eating or the thrush lasts more than 10 days.
Diabetics - Extra sugar in the saliva feeds yeast and leaves this group prone to oral thrush. Another reason to see your doctor if you get thrush regularly.
Denture Wearers - If they fit badly, thrush infection enters damaged mucus membranes. Visit the dentist for help.
Antibiotic Takers - High doses for too long may make thrush mouth because antibiotics kill bacteria. Also beware long term use of steroids or birth control pills, which may leave you susceptible to thrush infection
The Immune-Deficient - Not to be repetitive, but this is important: If you suffer from any immunodeficiency disease or underwent organ transplant or cancer treatment, you may be vulnerable to infections like thrush.
Smokers - Need another reason to quit? Drop the mouth-drying tobacco habit and you decrease your chances of contracting oral thrush.
Is Oral Thrush Contagious?
Yes, according to the University of Iowa. We all carry yeast in our mouths and digestive tracts; and on our skin and genital areas. But most of us keep thrush from flourishing by maintaining good dental and overall health.
You already know that mothers can pass yeast to their children during delivery, but they can also trade thrush infection back and forth during breast feedings. All family members may spread thrush during diaper changes or when picking up pacifiers, bottles and baby's oral toys. Wash your hands often to avoid spreading thrush mouth.
Consider keeping your child home from day care; or at least notifying care providers so they can minimize the spread of oral thrush. Sterilize the bottle nipples and pacifiers too.
England's National Health Service claims thrush may be orally transmitted between sexual partners, but there are conflicting reports on this question from other institutions.
Thrash Thrush With Oral Hygiene
Again, with infants, start worrying if your baby isn't eating, or has thrush symptoms for over 10 days.
If you're a breastfeeding mother and you think you and your baby are trading thrush infections during feedings, ask your doctor about anti-fungal creams.
As an adult or teen, try gently swabbing your own thrush mouth patches off with cotton gauze. This gives good bacteria the chance to regain footing in the yeast war. Eat more unsweetened yogurt to restore bacterial balance to fight thrush; and eat less sugar and yeasty foods like beers and breads.
When all else fails, ask your dentist about anti-fungal medications and mouth rinses, oral hygiene and over-the-counter cures for thrush mouth. If you're a denture wearer, have your dentist check your teeth for proper fit.
We're here to help find you a great thrush-fighting and oral health maintaining pro - just call us at 1-866-970-0441 and we'll locate a dentist that fits your needs.
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