8 Home Remedies to Treat Oral Thrush

Oral thrush, a fungal infection in the mouth, sometimes won't go away without medication. But that's not always so. Oral thrush home remedies such as rinsing with salt water or apple cider vinegar, consuming probiotics, and even just practicing good oral hygiene may be sufficient.

Here are eight home remedies for thrush that can help you manage the pain of mouth and throat sores or even kill off Candida—the yeast responsible for them.

It's always best to check with your healthcare provider before trying any of these suggestions to make sure a prescription treatment is not needed.

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

Tunatura / Getty Images

Good Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene isn't exactly a home remedy for thrush, but it's mentioned here because it's something that you can do on your own to both help prevent and treat this oral infection.

Keep these key points in mind:

  • Toothbrush: A soft-bristle toothbrush is the best choice. If you're prone to oral thrush, change your toothbrush more often than the typical every three months.
  • Floss: Plaque between teeth can drive an infection, so remove it completely by flossing.
  • Antiseptic mouthwash: Rinse your mouth regularly.
  • Dentist appointments: Don't skip trips to the dentist. They can spot problems early and prevent them from getting worse.

Wearing dentures may increase your chances of developing oral thrush due to:

  • Poor fit
  • Trapped leftover food
  • Dental plaque
  • Rough surfaces on the false teeth

If you wear dentures, be sure to clean them regularly with a toothbrush and a cleaning solution. And if they are not fitting well, see your oral healthcare practitioner.

Rinses for Oral Thrush

There are a few different kinds of rinses that you can try if you have oral thrush. It's likely that you have almost all of the ingredients for these home remedies in your pantry already.

Salt Water

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 salt water solution:

  1. Dissolve a half teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water.
  2. Swish the solution around your mouth.
  3. Spit it out.

Baking Soda

Some research suggests that baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, may act as a disinfectant against Candida.

The study tested the fungus on dentures and not directly in the mouth. The results showed that baking soda was effective in clearing up the overgrowth.

Further research involved using baking soda for oral thrush in people who'd just had a reconstructive surgery that frequently leads to oral thrush. Baking soda appeared to be effective at preventing infections. 

To use baking soda as a home remedy for thrush:

  1. Dissolve a half teaspoon of baking soda in one cup of warm water.
  2. Swish the solution around your mouth.
  3. Spit it out.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has proven antifungal properties. A lab study suggested in can help fight against Candida overgrowth.

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. Then:

  1. Dilute one teaspoon of vinegar with one cup of water.
  2. Rinse your mouth with the solution once a day.

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 early study found the two ingredients could be effective home remedies for thrush. Both lemon juice and lemongrass were helpful in treating the infection in people who were HIV positive.

If you want to try it, use unsweetened lemon juice or a lemongrass infusion (steep dried lemongrass in water or dilute lemongrass essential oil with water).

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, they may help to limit fungal growth and restore the natural balance in the mouth. The Lactobacillus probiotic, specifically, is good for treating oral thrush.

Probiotics can be found in many foods, making them easy-to-incorporate home remedies for thrush. Examples include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso
  • Tempeh
  • Some cheeses
  • Yogurt

Look for yogurt that contains live cultures (not all of them do) and is low in sugar. Sugar can actually make Candida overgrowth worse.

Probiotics also come in supplement form.

Gentian Violet as a Home Remedy for Thrush

Gentian violet, also known as crystal violet or methyl violet 10B, is a type of antiseptic dye. It was commonly used throughout the 19th century because it can kill some bacteria, fungi, and parasites.

In a lab study, gentian violet was shown to be very effective against Candida. Researchers aren't sure why, but they suspect it can get through the cell walls of the fungus. That's an important aspect of being able to kill it.

Gentian violet is a topical over-the-counter remedy. You can buy it online or at most pharmacies without a prescription. To use it:

  1. Dab a small amount of gentian violet on a cotton swab.
  2. Apply it to the gums, cheeks, and tongue.

Essential Oils as a Home Remedy for Thrush

Essential oils are used in a variety of ways to help with overall health and wellness. One Candida study tested essential oils from:

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Origanum floribundum Munby

All three appeared to be effective at controlling the fungus. Still, more research is needed in this area.

Summary

Oral thrush is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida (yeast) in the mouth. In many cases, home remedies for thrush can take care of symptoms and the infection itself.

Home remedies for thrush include good oral hygiene, probiotics, or special mouth rinses. Rinses may include salt water, baking soda, apple cider vinegar, gentian violet, lemon juice, a lemongrass infusion, or certain essential oils.

Check with a healthcare provider before trying these, as your case may require a prescription medication.

A Word From Verywell

If you are prescribed medication, ask whether also using home remedies for thrush might help you recover faster and manage symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can thrush clear up on its own?

    It often does. But it's not a good idea to wait very long to see if it will. Not only will you still have unpleasant symptoms, it's possible for the infection to spread.

  • Is Listerine good for thrush?

    Listerine may kill the fungus that causes thrush. However, it contains alcohol, which can increase the burning sensation caused by the infection. Daily use of an antiseptic mouthwash may help prevent thrush, however.

  • What are the symptoms of oral thrush?

    The main symptom of oral thrush is white, slightly raised lesions (sores) inside the mouth. Other symptoms 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.

  • Who gets oral thrush?

    Oral thrush is common in babies. People with certain health conditions (e.g., uncontrolled diabetes, Sjögren's syndrome, cancer) may also be more prone to it. Smoking, wearing dentures, and taking certain medications (like corticosteroids) increase the risk as well.

  • What medications are used to treat oral thrush?


    Antifungal medications used to treat oral thrush include Diflucan (fluconazole) and Mycostatin or Nilstat (nystatin).

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Sousa FA, Paradella TC, Koga-Ito CY, Jorge AO. Effect of sodium bicarbonate on Candida albicans adherence to thermally activated acrylic resin. Braz Oral Res. 2009 Oct-Dec;23(4):381-385. doi:10.1590/s1806-83242009000400006

  4. Yang Y, Zhang F, Lyu X, Yan Z, Hua H, Peng X. Prevention of oral candidiasis after free flap surgery: Role of 3% sodium bicarbonate saline in oral care. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2017 Mar;75(3):641-647. doi:10.1016/j.joms.2016.08.037

  5. Mota AC, de Castro RD, de Araújo Oliveira J, de Oliveira Lima E. Antifungal activity of apple cider vinegar on Candida species involved in denture stomatitis. J Prosthodont. 2015 Jun;24(4):296-302. doi:10.1111/jopr.12207

  6. Wright SC, Maree JE, Sibanyoni M. Treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients with lemon juice and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) and gentian violet. Phytomedicine. 2009 Mar;16(2-3):118-24. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2008.07.015

  7. Matsubara VH, Wang Y, Bandara HMHN, Mayer MPA, Samaranayake LP. Probiotic lactobacilli inhibit early stages of Candida albicans biofilm development by reducing their growth, cell adhesion, and filamentation. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2016 Jul;100(14):6415-6426. doi:10.1007/s00253-016-7527-3

  8. Man A, Ciurea CN, Pasaroiu D, Savin AI, Toma F, Sular F, Santacroce L, Mare A. New perspectives on the nutritional factors influencing growth rate of Candida albicans in diabetics. An in vitro study. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2017 Sep;112(9):587-592. doi:10.1590/0074-02760170098

  9. Maley AM, Arbiser JL. Gentian violet: a 19th century drug re-emerges in the 21st century. Exp Dermatol. 2013 Dec;22(12):775-80. doi:10.1111/exd.12257

  10. Ksouri S, Djebir S, Bentorki AA, Gouri A, Hadef Y, Benakhla A. Antifungal activity of essential oils extract from Origanum floribundum Munby, Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Thymus ciliatus Desf. against Candida albicans isolated from bovine clinical mastitis. J Mycol Med. 2017 Jun;27(2):245-249. doi:10.1016/j.mycmed.2017.03.004

  11. National Health Service: NHS Inform. Oral thrush in adults.

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By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.