Your tongue serves as an indicator of your health. If it is clean and bright pink, it means that everything is pretty hunky-dory inside. However, lately, if it has turned from a healthy pink color to cottage-cheesy white, it is calling for your attention.
A lumpy white-coated tongue is usually an indicator of oral thrush. Oral thrush, also known as oral candidiasis, is a yeast infection caused by the overgrowth of the candida albicans fungus in the mouth.
Candida yeasts are generally present in every human body and do not pose any threat, as the immune system, and the healthy bacteria in our bodies keep their numbers in check. However, a number of reasons can lead to their overgrowth. (1)
- Causes of Oral Thrush
- Symptoms of Oral Thrush
- Preventing Oral Thrush
- Home Remedies to Treat Oral Thrush
- Method 1: Baking Soda
- Method 2: Coconut oil
- Method 3: Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 4: Loperamide with Benadryl
- Method 5: Gentian Violet
- Method 6: Maalox with Benadryl
- Method 7: Tea Tree Oil
- Method 8: Salt
- Method 9: Yogurt
- Method 10: Garlic
- Tips to get relief
Causes of Oral Thrush
The overgrowth of the candida fungus can be caused by the following conditions: (2)
- Poor oral hygiene
- Dry mouth
- Wearing dentures, especially that don’t fit properly can trap food debris
- Excessive use of antibiotics
- Inhaling corticosteroid medication for asthma
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Hormonal changes due to pregnancy
- Taking chemotherapy or radiotherapy to treat cancer
Symptoms of Oral Thrush
There may be few or no symptoms at all in the early stages of oral thrush. However, as the condition progresses, you may notice the following: (2)
- White patches on the inner side of the mouth
- Swollen bumps on the tongue with a white cheese-like coating
- Slight bleeding if the white patches are scraped
- Pain in the bumps
- Dry and cracked skin at the corners of the mouth
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Loss of taste or an unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Fever if the infection spreads beyond the esophagus
- Bad breath
Preventing Oral Thrush
There are a number of practices you can adopt to prevent the chances of oral thrush. These include: (3)
- Maintain oral hygiene – Brush your teeth and clean your tongue twice daily. Also, floss your teeth once a day.
- Avoid overuse of mouthwash – Do not use mouthwash more than twice a day as it can upset the balance of good bacteria in your mouth and give way to infections.
- Limit the consumption of sugar and yeast – Foods such as bread, beer, and wine lead to yeast growth in the mouth.
- Rinse out your mouth thoroughly after using a corticosteroid inhaler. Also, clean inhalers after each use.
- Eat yogurt to increase the count of good bacteria in your body and increase your body’s resistance against infection.
- Regularly visit your dentist for checkups, especially if you wear dentures.
- Take care of chronic health issues that are causing oral thrush.
Home Remedies to Treat Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is neither contagious nor life-threatening. There are many home remedies that you can try if oral thrush is causing you discomfort. However, if the oral thrush is being caused due to any medical condition, you need to consult your doctor for the right treatment.
Here are the top 10 home remedies to get rid of oral thrush:
Method 1: Baking Soda
Baking soda is the best and the most inexpensive folk remedy for treating oral thrush. The baking soda acts as a disinfectant that can easily kill and treat any bacterial or fungal infection in the mouth.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply baking soda paste on the affected area
- Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to form a paste.
- Apply the paste on the affected area and leave it for 2 to 3 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
The baking soda remedy will give you relief after just 30 minutes of first use. Repeat 2 to 3 times in a day for 3 to 4 days to get rid of oral thrush completely.
Method 2: Coconut oil
Single-Step Treatment: Apply coconut oil on the infected site
- Apply extra virgin coconut oil on the infected area using a piece of cotton cloth.
- Alternatively, you can use coconut oil for oil pulling to maintain your oral hygiene. Every morning on an empty stomach, put 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swirl it around for 10 minutes. Spit it out in the trash can and rinse your mouth with warm water, followed by regular brushing.
Repeat the coconut oil application 3 to 4 times every day for 3 to 4 days to treat oral thrush.
Method 3: Apple Cider Vinegar
Being the cure-all of home remedies, apple cider vinegar can also be used to treat a number of oral conditions including oral thrush. The anti-fungal properties of the vinegar act effectively against the Candida fungus and also bring the pH level of your mouth back to normal. (5)
Single-Step Treatment: Consume diluted apple cider vinegar twice daily
- Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of warm water.
- Stir well and consume the drink. You can also add 1 teaspoon of honey to make it taste better.
Drink apple cider vinegar twice daily. You can see visible improvement after just 24 hours; continue using it for 4 to 5 days to treat the condition completely.
Method 4: Loperamide with Benadryl
A concoction of Benadryl and loperamide (Kaopectate) can help soothe the oral cavity irritated by oral thrush.
The Benadryl acts as an anti-inflammatory agent while the loperamide coats the surface of the infected site, reducing the pain and discomfort and also speeding up the healing process.
However, you will need to take anti-fungal medication along with this remedy to get rid of oral thrush completely.
- Mix ½ tablespoon of Benadryl with ½ tablespoon of Kaopectate.
- Put it in your mouth and swish it around for 2 minutes before spitting it out.
Use the mix as mouthwash 2 times daily. You will get immediate relief from the pain and burning and might even find the white coating peeling off. Continue with the remedy for 4 to 5 days to treat it completely.
Method 5: Gentian Violet
Gentian Violet (1%) is another excellent remedy for treating Candida Albicans. It is both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal in nature that can easily treat oral thrush.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply Gentian Violet on the infected area
- Use a cotton swab to apply the gentian violet directly on the infected areas of your mouth.
- Wait for a minute then spit it out.
Apply every day for 1 week to get rid of oral thrush.
Method 6: Maalox with Benadryl
A mix of Maalox and Children’s Benadryl, also known as the Pink Magic Mouth Wash, can be used to get rid of oral thrush, especially by patients who are going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments and who tend to get mouth sores.
Maalox works by forming a chalky coating on the inflamed areas of the mouth, while Benadryl provides relief from pain and burning.
Single-Step Treatment: Rinse your mouth with Maalox & Benadryl mix
- Mix equal proportions of Children’s Benadryl and Maalox together in a small bowl or glass.
- Take a swig of the mix and swish it around in your mouth; gargle and spit it out.
- Do not eat or drink anything for 15 minutes after using the mouth wash.
Repeat it 2 times daily for 1 week to treat oral thrush.
Method 7: Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is anti-fungal in nature can also be used as a mouth rinse to get rid of oral thrush. Regular use after treating the condition will also help keep yeast growth at bay.
Single-Step Treatment: Add tea tree oil to water & use as a mouth rinse
- Add 3 to 4 drops of tea tree oil to 1 glass of warm water.
- Stir it well and use the solution to gargle and rinse your mouth for a few minutes.
Use this remedy twice daily for 1 week or until you get relief.
Method 8: Salt
Salt acts an antiseptic, flushing out the fungus from your mouth and thus treating the oral thrush. Salt also reduces swelling and promotes wound healing in the mouth. (6)
Single-Step Treatment: Rinse your mouth with saline water
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 glass of warm water.
- Stir it well until the salt dissolves completely in water.
- Rinse your mouth with the saline solution for 1 to 2 minutes, then spit it out.
Use this remedy twice every day for 1 week.
Method 9: Yogurt
Yogurt acts as a probiotic as it is naturally rich in Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria or the good bacteria. Applying yogurt on the affected sites can help curb the candida fungus.
Also, the regular consumption of yogurt helps boost the immune system, which can then naturally fight against infections. (7)
Single-Step Treatment: Apply plain yogurt on the affected areas
- Using a spoon or your clean finger, apply plain yogurt on the affected areas of your mouth.
- Leave it for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
- Additionally, consume 2 to 3 cups of yogurt every day to raise your body’s natural defense against infections.
Apply yogurt 1 or 2 times daily on the infected site. It will bring you immediate relief, especially if you have bleeding wounds inside your mouth. Use it for 1 to 2 weeks to get rid of oral thrush.
Method 10: Garlic
Allicin present in garlic is a great antimicrobial agent that can deal with multiple kinds of infections. It is also an effective remedy to treat oral thrush.
Apart from killing the troubling pathogens, it also helps your body ward off future bouts of infections.
Single-Step Treatment: Consume 2 to 3 cloves of garlic daily
- Consume 2 to 3 cloves of raw garlic daily.
- If the strong aroma of garlic is difficult to handle, you can also take garlic supplements after consulting your doctor.
Consume it daily until the infection clears off.
Tips to get relief
- Grapefruit seed extract also works well to get rid of oral thrush. Just add 2 drops of the extract to 1 teaspoon of distilled water and apply it on the white patches. You do not have to rinse your mouth.
- Change your toothbrush every 3 to 6 months for proper oral care.
- Singh A, Verma R, et al. Oral candidiasis: An overview. Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology. http://www.jomfp.in/article.asp?issn=0973-029X;year=2014;volume=18;issue=4;spage=81;epage=85;aulast=Singh. Published 2014.
- Patil, Rao, S. R, Majumdar, Anil, Sukumaran. Clinical Appearance of Oral Candida Infection and Therapeutic Strategies. Frontiers. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2015.01391/full. Published November 23, 2015.
- Candida infections of the mouth, throat, and esophagus | Fungal Diseases | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/thrush/index.html.
- Shanbhag VKL. Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene – A review. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2225411016300281?via=ihub. Published June 6, 2016.
- Yagnik D, Serafin V, Shah AJ. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-18618-x. Published January 29, 2018.
- Huynh NC-N, Everts V, Leethanakul C, Pavasant P, Ampornaramveth RS. Rinsing with Saline Promotes Human Gingival Fibroblast Wound Healing In Vitro. PloS one. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4956236/. Published July 21, 2016.
- Haukioja A. Probiotics and oral health. European journal of dentistry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897872/. Published July 2010.
Summary of How to Get Rid of Oral Thrush
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