A yeast infection will flourish in areas of the body that are moist and warm, and so the mouth is one of the places that has an ideal environment for it. An oral yeast infection is also commonly referred to as Thrush (though in the U.K Thrush can be the vaginal infection also).It is a very painful form of yeast infection and can affect anyone, men and women, at any age. Babies are quite prone to Thrush but their form is not as nasty as the adult version. There are small amounts of a fungus called Candida Albicans in the mouth naturally that are harmless, kept from overgrowing by the good bacteria that are also there. If that balance is upset a trigger can lead to the fungus growing rapidly and this leads to an oral yeast infection.
Who can be affected?
As mentioned babies are more prone, especially younger babies 2 months and under. Other groups that are more at risk include older people that use dentures, antibiotic users, people undergoing chemotherapy, those with a weakened immune system, smokers and people that have a poor diet. It is an embarrassing form of yeast infection because it is so obvious to others.
The usual symptoms of an oral yeast infection is white patches in the mouth, on the cheeks, tongue and possibly even leading towards the throat. These white patches if lifted reveal lesions that bleed easily and are very painful. If it has spread to the escophagus it is painful to eat or swallow and it may feel like food gets stuck there all the time. Do not try to remove the white patches thinking it will get rid of the infection, it will just make it worse and spread it further and cause a lot of pain. It is advisable to have a doctor look at your mouth and give a proper diagnosis as there are similar symptoms for mouth cancer and you need to be certain, though the odds are against it, that it is not that.
There are several over the counter treatments you can try, as well as possible medications your doctor can prescribe. Natural remedies are an alternative option and these include live plain yogurt, raw garlic, home made mouthwashes made from apple cider vinegar or other natural ingredients. To use garlic which is great because of its anti fungal properties, boil 3 cloves in water, simmer for 5 minutes then mix in 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt. When cool enough use as a mouth wash at least 4 or 5 times a day. Yogurt will soothe the symptoms while replacing good bacteria in your mouth which will fight the yeast.
However if you have an underlying problem that causes the infection it is possible that without treating the root cause of the problem the infection will return. Obviously you cannot stop chemotherapy treatment but if the problem is your diet, that you can change by eating more leafy green vegetables and less sugar, yeast and carbohydrates. There are things you can do also as preventative measures. If you wear dentures make sure you clean them properly and that they fit properly. Make sure baby pacifiers and bottle nipples are sterilized. If you are diabetic control your blood sugar levels. If you smoke now may be a good time to quit!