Dental Health and Thrush
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
How Is Thrush Treated?
While healthy children and adults can be effectively treated for thrush, the symptoms may be more severe and difficult to manage in those with weakened immune systems. Antifungal medications, which are generally taken for 10 to 14 days, are often prescribed to treat thrush. These medicines are available in tablets, lozenges, or liquids. Your dentist will have a specific treatment approach designed for you based on your age and the cause of the infection. Because the presence of candida infection can be a symptom of other medical problems, your dentist may suggest you seek care from a medical doctor as well so that any underlying health problems can be treated.
How Can Thrush Be Prevented?
The following can help you prevent thrush:
- Follow good oral hygiene practices. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day.
- Don't overuse mouthwashes or sprays. These products can destroy the normal balance of microorganisms in your mouth.
- See your dentist regularly. Especially if you have diabetes or wear dentures.
- Limit the amount of sugar and yeast-containing foods you eat. Foods such as bread, beer, and wine encourage candida growth.
- If you smoke, quit. Ask your doctor or dentist about ways to help you kick the habit.