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Thrush - Treatment Overview

Thrush is a yeast infection that can develop in the mouth and throat and on the tongue. Thrush is most common in newborns, infants, and older adults, but it can occur at any age. In healthy newborns and infants, thrush is usually not a serious problem and is easily treated and cured.

Except for the mildest cases, you should treat thrush to keep the infection from spreading. Prescribed antifungal medicines, which slow down the growth of yeast, are the standard treatment for thrush. Thrush is most commonly treated with medicines that are either applied directly to the affected area (topical) or swallowed (oral).

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  • The type of medicine prescribed will depend on your or your child's health, how bad the infection is, how long the infection has been present, and/or whether the infection has come back.
  • Infants are nearly always treated with topical antifungal medicines. Topical medicines don't work as well in adults, because adults have bigger mouths and it is hard to cover the affected areas.

Mild thrush

In adults, mild cases of thrush may clear up with simple treatment that can be done at home. This treatment usually involves using an antifungal mouth rinse or lozenges. Treatment usually lasts about 14 days.

Mild thrush in infants is usually treated with topical medicines until at least 48 hours after the symptoms have gone away.

Moderate to severe thrush

More severe thrush infections that have spread to the esophagus are treated with an oral antifungal medicine. A topical antifungal medicine may also be used.

For some severe infections, a treatment period longer than 14 days may be needed.

Oral antifungal medicines are almost never used during pregnancy, because the fetus may be harmed. But if a pregnant woman has a rare, severe thrush infection, oral antifungal medicines may be used. In this case, the risk of harm to the mother and fetus from the severe thrush infection may be greater than the risk posed by the use of antifungal medicines.

Persistent or recurrent thrush

Persistent or recurrent cases of thrush may:

  • Need to be treated twice as long as the symptoms last.
  • Require treatment with both oral and topical antifungal medicines.

People with weakened immune systems can take an antifungal medicine on a continuous basis to prevent thrush infections.

It is very important to get rid of any sources of infection, or thrush will continue to come back. Do this by cleaning toys, pacifiers, bottles, and other items a child may put in his or her mouth or share with another child.

It is important to treat conditions that make you more likely to get thrush, such as diabetes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or cancer. For more information, see Prevention.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 25, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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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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