Do your teeth appear like cottage cheese? Learn the symptoms, causes, and treatment for Oral thrush


Have you ever noticed white and cottage cheese-like patches in your mouth? If yes, you may probably suffer from a common fungal infection called oral thrush. Even though oral thrush can affect anybody, it most likely occurs in babies and old-age adults because of the weak immune system. It is painless and can be prevented by oral thrush medications and following a few preventive steps.

People suffering from oral thrush will notice white or yellow color patches in their mouths. It is an overgrowth of oral candidiasis fungus that leads to the formation of cream-colored lesions. It is commonly called candidiasis and is found throughout the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and skin. A healthy mouth and a solid immune system keep it in check. Still, any imbalance in your mouth microorganisms can allow candidiasis to multiply rapidly, which leads to some of the significant symptoms of oral thrush.


What are the symptoms of oral thrush?

Oral thrush symptoms are common in both children and adults. In the initial stage, you might not notice any symptoms of oral thrush. However, depending on the underlying cause, signs, and symptoms may develop and persist for a long time.

  • Cream-colored white lesions on your tongue, inner cheeks, and sometimes in the roof of your mouth, tonsils, and gums
  • Lesions having an appearance of cottage cheese
  • Pain
  • Little bleeding when this lesion becomes rubbed or scraped
  • Crack and redness in the corners of your mouth
  • A smooth cottony feeling in your mouth
  • Taste loss

In some cases, the lesions start spreading down towards the esophagus – a long, muscular tube stretching from the back of your mouth towards your stomach. When it happens, you will face difficulty swallowing or feel like food is getting stuck in your mouth.


Symptoms in infants and breastfeeding mothers

In addition to distinct white-colored mouth lesions, infants will face trouble while feeding or become fussy and irritated. They can even pass this infection to their mothers while breastfeeding. The condition will then pass between the mother's breast and the baby's mouth. Women with infected breasts will have the following signs and symptoms.

  • Red, sensitive, and itchy nipples
  • Shiny or flaky skin in areola
  • Unusual pain at the time of nursing or painful nipples
  • Stabbing pain deep within the breast


What Causes Oral thrush?

Oral thrush causes include a weakened immune system because of some disease or the use of drugs like prednisone or antibiotics that disturb the balance of microorganisms in your body. Generally, your immune system defends against harmful organisms invading your body, like viruses, fungi, and bacteria. It also maintains a balance between harmful and good microorganisms that inhabit your body naturally. But in some cases, these natural mechanisms fail, allowing the infection to take hold of your body.

Some of the illness that makes you more susceptible to oral thrush are

  • HIV/AIDs: A virus that causes AIDS affects your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections like oral thrush. Repeated bouts of oral thrush are a strong indication of HIV infection.
  • Cancer: When you have cancer, your immune system weakens because of the disease and treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Both the disease and treatments can enhance your risk of candida infections.
  • Diabetes mellitus: When your diabetes is left untreated or is not under control, your saliva is loaded with sugar that attracts fungal growth like the candida.
  • Vaginal yeast infections: Vaginal yeast infections are caused by the same fungus responsible for oral thrush. Even though a yeast infection is not that dangerous, when you are pregnant, you can pass the fungus to your baby at the time of delivery. Because of this, your newborn will also develop the disease.


Risk factors of oral thrush

Anybody can develop oral thrush, but the chance of getting the infection increases with the following risk factors:

  • Being an infant
  • Having a weak immune system 
  • Wearing of dentures
  • Other health conditions like diabetes or anemia
  • Taking some medication like antibiotics or inhaled corticosteroids
  • Smoking


Treatment of oral thrush

Symptoms clear up in one or two weeks by taking antifungal medications like fluconazole or tablets made with clotrimazole. The doctor might also prescribe Nystatin, an antifungal mouthwash for babies and adults. If you leave it untreated, oral thrush subsides till eight weeks. 

Oral thrush is a common condition that tends to go away independently. If you or your child is experiencing the symptoms of oral thrush, then it's time to schedule an appointment with your dentist for treatment. MyDentalPlan- India’s Largest Dental Network platform allows you to interact with numerous dentists who can help you identify any underlying medical conditions contributing to those signs.




About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.

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