Burke, Fairfax and Fairfax Station, VA

Oral thrush is a common condition, but it’s often misunderstood. Also known as oral candidiasis, oral thrush is a fungal infection that can affect anyone, but it is particularly common in babies, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Understanding this condition is key to maintaining good oral health. Today, our Burke family dentist, Dr. Pam Marzban DDS, is providing information on this curious condition to help you understand it — and its treatment — better.

What is oral thrush?

Oral thrush is an infection of the mouth caused by the Candida fungus, commonly Candida albicans. This yeast is normally present in small quantities (and is typically harmless) in your mouth, gut, and skin. Under certain conditions, however, it can overgrow and cause uncomfortable symptoms.

The most noticeable symptom of oral thrush is the appearance of creamy white lesions, usually on your tongue or inner cheeks. These lesions can be slightly raised and might look like cottage cheese. They can be painful and may bleed slightly when scraped. In severe cases, the infection can spread to the roof of your mouth, gums, tonsils, or the back of your throat.

What are the causes and risk factors of thrush?

Several factors can contribute to the development of oral thrush:

  • Weakened immunity — People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to thrush. This includes infants, elderly people, and those with conditions like HIV/AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Medical conditions — Diabetes, particularly if poorly controlled, can encourage excess Candida growth. Dry mouth conditions also increase the risk of thrush.
  • Certain medications — Antibiotics and corticosteroid inhalers can disrupt the natural balance of microorganisms in your mouth.
  • Oral hygiene practices — Poor oral hygiene or wearing ill-fitting dentures can cause conditions conducive to thrush.
  • Lifestyle factors — Smokers are more likely to develop oral thrush, as are those who wear dentures, especially if they’re not cleaned regularly or don’t fit properly.

How is thrush diagnosed?

If you suspect you have oral thrush, it’s important to visit your Fairfax-area dentist or healthcare provider. They can typically diagnose thrush based on an oral examination. Occasionally, a small scraping of the lesions may be sampled to confirm the diagnosis.

How is thrush treated?

Treatment usually involves antifungal medications in the form of lozenges, tablets, or liquids. For infants with oral thrush, a liquid medication can be applied to the affected areas. It’s also crucial to manage any underlying conditions that might be contributing to the overgrowth of Candida.

How can thrush be prevented?

Preventing oral thrush involves a combination of good oral hygiene practices and lifestyle adjustments:

  • Oral hygiene — Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. If you wear dentures, ensure they fit properly and are cleaned daily.
  • Diet — Limit your sugar intake; high sugar levels can encourage Candida growth.
  • Quit smoking — Smoking can increase your risk of oral thrush.
  • Regular dental check-ups — Regular visits to your dentist can help with early detection and prevention of various oral conditions, including thrush.

Thrush treatment in Burke, Fairfax, and Fairfax Station, Virginia

Oral thrush, while common and generally not serious, can be uncomfortable. By understanding its causes, symptoms, and preventive measures, you can better manage and prevent this condition. Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene and making sure you attend regular dental visits are key to your overall oral health. If you have any concerns or symptoms of oral thrush, don’t hesitate to contact the office of Dr. Marzban at 703-940-1350 to schedule a consultation or appointment.

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