Oral Thrush Home Remedies

Oral thrush is a fungal infection that affects the mouth. It is considered a type of yeast infection because it is caused by the overgrowth of Candida, the same fungus that causes vaginal and penile yeast infections. Oral thrush is also called oral candidiasis or oropharyngeal candidiasis.

The main symptom of oral thrush is white lesions inside the mouth. They are slightly raised and are typically found on the tongue and on the inside of the cheeks. They can also appear on the gums, tonsils, roof of the mouth, or in the back of the throat. The lesions may bleed or be painful if they are scraped like when teeth brush against them. Other symptoms that could indicate oral thrush include soreness or redness inside the mouth and at the corners of the mouth, loss of taste, and a cotton-like feeling inside the mouth.

People with certain other health conditions may be prone to getting oral thrush, including those with uncontrolled diabetes, those who test positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or those with cancer. People who wear dentures, smoke, or have dry mouth also are more susceptible to the infection.

Oral Candidiasis or Oral trush ( Candida albicans), yeast infection on the human tongue close up

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Home Remedies for Oral Thrush

Typical treatments for oral thrush include antifungal medications such as fluconazole (sold under the brand name Diflucan) and nystatin (brand names include Mycostatin and Nilstat). In some cases, prescription medications may not be needed. There are various at-home treatments that can help alleviate the discomfort and heal the overgrowth of the Candida fungus.

Good Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene is vital to all aspects of health, and when it comes to oral thrush, it can be a great aid in preventing the condition from developing at all. When practicing good oral hygiene to prevent and heal thrush, it’s important to choose the right toothbrush. A soft-bristle toothbrush is the best choice. Plaque that builds up between teeth can also drive an infection, so it’s important to remove it completely using floss. Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash and keeping up with regular dental appointments can also help prevent oral thrush.

Wearing dentures may increase your chances of developing oral thrush due to a poor fitting, trapped leftover food, dental plaque, or rough surfaces on the false teeth. It's helpful to clean the dentures regularly with a toothbrush and a cleaning solution. If you are prone to oral thrush, changing your toothbrush more often than the recommended three months also can help prevent the infection from occurring or recurring.  

Saltwater

Research has shown that salt is an effective tool in oral hygiene because it can improve healing in the mouth and soothe discomfort. To help relieve the symptoms of oral thrush and promote quicker healing of the lesions, rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution. To make one, dissolve about a half teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water. Swish the solution in your mouth and then spit it out.

Baking Soda

Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, has many uses. One study published in 2009 found that baking soda may act as a disinfectant against Candida. The study tested the fungus on dentures and not directly in the mouth, but the results found that the use of baking soda was effective in clearing up the overgrowth on the infected dentures.

This study was backed by more recent research that tested the efficacy of baking soda against oral thrush in those who had just received free flap reconstruction surgery, which is a medical procedure that removes tissue and its blood supply from one area of the body to be used in a different area of the body requiring reconstruction. In patients who undergo the procedure, oral thrush is common, and the use of baking soda was effective at preventing it in patients in this study. 

To use baking soda against oral thrush at home, you will want to use a half teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in one cup of warm water. Swish the solution in your mouth as you would mouthwash, and then spit it out.

Probiotics

Probiotics introduce good bacteria into the body, which helps to balance the gut flora. For oral thrush, probiotics may be a viable option for at-home treatment and prevention. Although probiotic cultures may not kill off the Candida fungus altogether, probiotics may help to limit fungi growth and restore the natural balance in the mouth. The Lactobacillus probiotic, specifically, is good for the treatment of oral thrush.

Probiotics can be found in many foods, including yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and some cheeses. It also comes in the form of a supplement. If you have oral thrush, yogurt may be a good way to get the probiotics you need because it is soft, easy to swallow, and not irritating to any painful lesions present. Look for yogurt that is low in sugar, because sugar can actually help Candida thrive by aiding in their overgrowth.

Apple Cider Vinegar 

An in vitro study (one that is performed outside the body) found that apple cider vinegar can help fight against Candida overgrowth because of its proven antifungal properties. Using apple cider vinegar as a rinse could help alleviate the symptoms of oral thrush and clear up the overgrowth of Candida in the mouth. Choose apple cider vinegar that is raw and unfiltered, and dilute one teaspoon with one cup of water. Rinse your mouth with the solution and repeat daily.

Gentian Violet

Gentian violet, also known as crystal violet or methyl violet 10B, is a type of antiseptic dye that was commonly used throughout the 19th century because it possesses properties that can kill various pathogens, such as bacteria, fungi, and parasites. When gentian violet was tested in an in vitro study against various forms of fungi, it was shown to be very effective against Candida. Although researchers aren't sure how it works, they theorize that it can easily get through the cell walls of the fungus, giving it a good chance at being able to kill it.

Gentian violet is a topical over-the-counter remedy that can be purchased online or at most pharmacies without a prescription. To use, dab a small amount of gentian violet on a cotton swab and apply it to the gums, cheeks, and tongue.

Lemon Juice and Lemongrass

Both lemon juice and lemongrass, a lemony-scented plant in the grass family, have antifungal properties. When it comes to their ability to fight against oral thrush, more research is needed. However, one 2009 study found that the two ingredients could be effective home remedies against oral thrush. Both lemon juice and lemongrass were helpful in treating the oral thrush of study participants who were HIV positive. Use lemon juice or lemongrass infusion (made from steeping dried lemongrass in water or diluting lemongrass essential oil with water) as a mouth rinse.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are used in a variety of ways to help with overall health and wellness. Recent research has shown that they may be valuable against many health ailments such as inflammation, mood disorders, and insomnia. One study in particular tested essential oils from three different plants (rosemary, thyme, and Origanum floribundum Munby) against Candida and found that they were effective at controlling the fungus. Still, more research is needed in this area.

A Word From Verywell

You can certainly try at-home treatments to help with oral thrush, but it’s important to always seek medical advice from a physician and get a proper diagnosis before starting any treatment. A doctor also can provide you with the option to use prescription medications that have proven to fight the fungus. Using home remedies alongside a prescription medication, however, could help speed up the healing process and provide relief from some of the more uncomfortable symptoms of oral thrush.

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