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Dental Health and Thrush

Picture of Baby Yeast InfectionThrush is an infection of the mouth caused by the candida fungus, also known as yeast. Candida infection is not limited to the mouth; it can occur in other parts of the body as well, causing diaper rash in infants or vaginal yeast infections in women.

Thrush can affect anyone, though it occurs most often in babies and toddlers, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Night Terrors in Children

Night terrors are distinctly different from the much more common nightmares, which occur during REM sleep. Night terrors are characterized by frequent recurrent episodes of intense crying and fear during sleep, with difficulty arousing the child. Night terrors are frightening episodes that disrupt family life.

An estimated 1-6% of children experience night terrors. Boys and girls are equally affected. Children of all races also seem to be affected equally. The disorder usually resolves during adolescence.

What Causes Thrush?

Small amounts of the candida fungus are present in the mouth, digestive tract, and skin of most healthy people. They are normally kept in check by other bacteria and microorganisms in the body. However, certain illnesses, stress, or medications can disturb the delicate balance, causing the fungus candida to grow out of control and causing thrush.

Medications that upset the balance of microorganisms in the mouth and may cause thrush include: 

Illnesses or medical situations that make candida infection more likely include: 

People who smoke or wear dentures that don't fit properly also are at increased risk for thrush. In addition, babies can pass the infection to their mothers during breast-feeding.

What Are the Symptoms of Thrush?

Thrush usually develops suddenly, but it may become chronic, persisting over a long period of time. A common sign of thrush is the presence of creamy white, slightly raised lesions in your mouth - usually on your tongue or inner cheeks but also sometimes on the roof of your mouth, gums, tonsils, or back of your throat. The lesions, which may have a "cottage cheese" appearance, can be painful and may bleed slightly when you scrape them or brush your teeth. In severe cases, the lesions may spread into your esophagus, or swallowing tube, causing:

  • Pain or difficulty swallowing
  • A feeling that food gets stuck in your throat or mid-chest area
  • Fever, if the infection spreads beyond the esophagus

Thrush can spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs, liver, and skin. This happens more often in people with cancer, HIV, or other conditions that weaken the immune system.

How Is Thrush Diagnosed?

Your dentist can diagnose thrush by examining your mouth. He or she looks for the distinctive white lesions on your mouth, tongue, or cheeks. Lightly brushing the lesions away reveals a reddened, tender area that may bleed slightly. A microscopic examination of tissue from a lesion can confirm the diagnosis.

Thrush that extends into your esophagus may require other tests to make the diagnosis. Such tests might include: 

  • Taking a throat culture by swabbing the back of your throat with sterile cotton and studying the microorganisms under a microscope
  • Performing an endoscopy of your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine -- examining the lining of these body areas with a lighted camera mounted on the tip of a tube passed through these areas)
  • Taking X-rays of your esophagus
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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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