Looking for a simple at-home cure for oral thrush? Tried every mouthwash, and every? Turns out there might be an easier way! But first, we need to talk about oral thrush, what causes it, and what research says is the most effective remedy for thrush.
What is oral thrush?
Oral thrush, also referred to as oral Candidiasis, is an oral disease caused by Candida, a yeast that is an opportunistic pathogen. Almost everybody has Candida on their skin and in their mouth, but in normal conditions it doesn’t cause any disease. Candida can cause a fungal infection, primarily in people who are immunocompromised or have underlying medical issues.
Types of Candida that can cause thrush
The most common type of oral Candidiasis is by Candida albicans. However, over 20 other species of Candida can also cause Candidiasis, such as Candida dubliniensis and Candida glabrata. Candida albicans causes about half of all cases of oral thrush, and most cases are caused by either Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, and Candida glabrata.
Symptoms of thrush
Who can get oral thrush?
Although oral thrush can affect anybody, it is more common in infants and older individuals due to their weakened immune systems, as well as in other with weakened immune systems, specific medical conditions, or those taking particular drugs. If you're healthy, oral thrush may only be a minor inconvenience, but if your immune system is compromised, your symptoms may be more severe and harder to manage.
Weakened immune systems also can lead to recurring thrush, which is when symptoms of oral thrush can be intermittent, coming and going. It may feel like symptoms have cleared, but symptoms can flare up.
People with dry mouth may also be at higher risk of thrush due to the lack of saliva, a key component of oral health that protects your mouth from candida infection, and bacterial infections.
Why do some people get thrush and not others?
Your immune system typically works to fend off pathogenic invaders like viruses, bacteria, and fungi while preserving a balance between harmful and helpful microbes that typically live in your body, also known as the microbiome. Occasionally, the immune system becomes weakened, leading to an increase in Candida and the development of an oral thrush infection.
Research shows that people who get thrush often have imbalance in their oral microbiome, the community of microbes that live in the mouth.
Oral hygiene may also play a role in preventing thrush, and people with poor oral hygiene may be more susceptible to oral disease.
Is oral thrush contagious?
Yes. Oral thrush can be passed from person to person. Thrush can be passed through direct contact, such as kissing, or oral sex. Candida not only causes oral thrush, but can also cause yeast infections across other locations in the body, and is a leading cause of vaginal yeast infections. Research shows that oral sex can increase your risk of a yeast infection.
The oral microbiome and oral thrush
Studies show that people who suffer from oral thrush have different microbes in their oral microbiome compared to healthy people. These differences may contribute to risk of oral thrush, but more research is still needed to reveal the complex community between oral bacteria and oral fungi in thrush.
Participate in oral thrush research with Bristle
Bristle, an oral microbiome company, is leading research into the role of the microbiome in chronic oral thrush. If you suffer from recurring oral thrush, you can sign up to partake in research about how your oral microbiome might impact your risk of oral thrush by sending an email to info @ bristlehealth.com with the subject-line “Oral Thrush Research Study”.
How do you treat oral thrush?
Cases of oral thrush are normally diagnosed by a dentist or ear, nose, and throat doctor. These specialists can prescribe antifungal medications such as Fluconazole, Clotrimazole, Nystatin. These medications specifically target fungi while leaving the bacterial community of the oral microbiome unaffected. These are the most effective solutions for treating oral thrush.
Does peroxide kill oral thrush?
Yes, hydrogen peroxide is a universal antiseptic, and kills both fungi and bacteria. However, chronic use of hydrogen peroxide can make you more susceptible to secondary infections. Hydrogen peroxide kills not only the Candida that cause thrush, but also the helpful bacteria that can prevent infections.
3% hydrogen peroxide mouthwash should be diluted by adding 1 part peroxide solution and 3 parts water before using as a mouthwash. Concentration of hydrogen peroxide at 3% or above can cause irritation and damage your gum tissue, and lead to worse symptoms of disease.
What are some other at-home treatment options for thrush?
Research shows that some essential oils also have antifungal properties.
Lavender oil, tea tree oil, lemon oil, and peppermint oil have been shown to kill Candida, and may have additional antibacterial properties. You can read more about our research into essential oils and oral health here.