What is the treatment for oral yeast infections?

Find out more about this condition and what you can do about it


Oral yeast infections, also called oral thrush or oral candidiasis, is an infection of the mouth. The fungus, Candida Albicans, is part of the mormal flora inside your mouth, but when it overgrows it can lead to oral thrush and related symptoms. Thrush can also present as vaginal or penile yeast infections. In babies, it can present as diaper rash.

Oral thrush is usually harmless for healthy individuals. It normally presents in babies and older people as they have a weaker immune system. It is more common in babies, the elderly, people with a suppressed immune system, and cna occur when you take certai medications.  For individuals with a weakened immune system, thrush can be more severe and difficult to control.

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Normally, human immune systems maintain a balance of good and bad microbes that live in our bodies. The immune system works to fight harmful organisms invading our body such as viruses, bacteria and fungi. When the immune system is weakened or an imbalance occurs in our normal flora, Candida Albicans can grow out of control allowing for infection to take hold.


Common symptoms of oral thrush include:

  • Creamy white lesions that can be found on your tongue, inner cheeks and sometimes the roof of your mouth, gums and tonsils
  • Burning and soreness causing difficulty eatig or swallowing
  • Cracks or redness at the corners of your mouth 
  • Slight bleeding if the lesions are rubbed or picked
  • Cottony feeling in your mouth 
  • Loss of taste 
  • Redness, irritation or pain under your dentures

In some severe cases, the infection can spread to your esophagus. This is usually the case in individuals suffering from cancer or a weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS. If this happens, there might be some difficulties with swallowing and a sensation of food getting stuck in the throat. 

Risk factors:

Some medications and conditions can place you at high risk of getting oral thrush. These include:

  • Weakened immune system: With suppressed immunity, your body is not able to fight off fungi like it normally would. This gives the fungi a chance to grow out of control. 
  • Diabetes: If your diabetes is not well-controlled, your saliva will contain high levels of sugar encouraging the fungi to grow. 
  • Medications: Certain medications such as inhaled corticosteroids, prednisolone and antibiotics disturb the natural balance in your body and increase the chance of developing thrush. 
  • Other oral conditions: Wearing dentures or having a dry mouth can increase the risk of oral thrush. 


There are many ways to reduce the risk of developing thrush. Some measures you can take include:

  • Rinsing your mouth: If you regularly use a corticosteroid inhaler, ensure to rinse your mouth with water after taking the medication
  • Denture hygiene: If you wear dentures, remove them at night. Make sure they fit your mouth properly as ill-fitting ones can cause irritation. Make sure to clean them daily to remove any unwanted bacteria. 
  • Dental visits: Make sure to visit your dentist regularly, especially if you wear dentures or have diabetes. 
  • Diet: Limit the amount of sugary foods you eat as it encourages the growth of the Candida fungi. 
  • Diabetic control: If you are a diabetic, make sure your blood sugar is well controlled as this will lower the amount of sugar in your saliva, discouraging candida growth in your mouth. 
  • Treat dry mouth: Ask your doctor or dentist for ways to treat a dry mouth. 


Oral yeast infections are simple to treat. First, you can visit your pharmacist to get some over the counter medications. Oral thrush can be easily treated with some mouth gel purchased from the pharmacy. This is usually a one-week treatment. If the yeast infection does not resolve by then, it would be advisable to make an appointment with your doctor. 

A doctor will be able to diagnose you with oral thrush purely based on our symptoms, however, they might perform some tests for confirmation if needed. Mild cases can be treated with medications such as clotrimazole and miconazole.  These can come in the form of mouthwash, tablets or lozenges. A course of treatment usually latsts 10-14 days.  

For more severe cases, the doctor might prescribe stronger antifungals. These include fluconazole and itraconazole. For those suffering from resistant thrush, amphotericin B may be prescribed instead. 

Oral yeast infections are easily treatable. There are also many measures that one can take to prevent this infection from taking hold. 


WebMD, “What is Thrush?”, WebMD, 2016
NHS Choices, “Oral thrush (mouth thrush)”, 2019
“Oral thrush - Symptoms and causes.” Mayo Clinic, 2018

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