Thrush Infection Treatment Oral Prevention

Oral thrush is not generally a serious disease, but it can cause great discomfort. If you are susceptible to oral thrush, practicing infection control techniques can help prevent thrush outbreaks and minimize symptoms when thrush does develop.

Those at Risk for Thrush

Candida Albicans, the yeast responsible for oral thrush, is present in all bodies to some extent. Occasionally, however, this yeast grows out of control, resulting in a noticeable infection. You may need to practice preventative infection control if:

  • you are taking antibiotics
  • you have diabetes
  • you have dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • you suffer from frequent or chronic thrush outbreaks
  • your immune system is suppressed due to illness or medication.

Antibiotics and Oral Thrush Infection Control

Antibiotics are a common cause of oral thrush outbreaks. A course of antibiotics targets and kills bacteria. Bacteria killed by the antibiotics include not only disease-causing bacteria but also the harmless and beneficial bacteria that naturally inhabit the human body.

When antibiotics kill bacteria, they disrupt the balance of the body’s micro-flora, the numerous bacteria, yeasts and fungi that are naturally present in the body. Oral thrush is usually kept under control by the immune system and competing micro-flora. When bacteria populations plummet due to antibiotics, rapidly reproducing Candida Albicans is quick to fill the void, resulting in infection.

If antibiotics are prescribed, there are two things you can do to help prevent a thrush infection:

  • The first and perhaps the most well-known infection control for thrush is unsweetened yogurt containing active acidophilus bacterial cultures.
  • The second is taking acidophilus supplements.

Acidophilus is a type of bacteria that aids digestion. Unsweetened yogurt and acidophilus supplements help prevent imbalances in the body’s micro-flora, which in turn helps prevent oral thrush infections.

After taking antibiotics, rinse the mouth out with water to help prevent a thrush outbreak. This is especially important with liquid antibiotics, which are often prescribed to infants and young children. Liquid antibiotics come into direct contact with the mouth cavity, increasing the chance antibiotics will disrupt the mouth’s natural microorganism balance.

Oral Hygiene and Thrush Infection Control

Regular oral hygiene is an essential infection control technique for thrush. This is especially true if you have diabetes, which increases the amount of glucose in your saliva. (Thrush yeast feed on glucose and other simple sugars.)

Good oral hygiene includes regular brushing and flossing and regular dental checkups. Follow your dentist’s recommendations for oral hygiene.

Incorrectly cleaned dentures can result in oral thrush, as can sleeping without removing dentures. Good oral hygiene and thrush infection control should include following recommended denture cleaning schedules.

Mouthwashes should be avoided when trying to prevent oral thrush. Although often seen as part of a good oral hygiene program, mouthwashes can disrupt the mouth’s natural levels of micro-flora.

Xerostomia and Oral Thrush

A dry mouth, or xerostomia, increases the risk of oral thrush outbreaks. A number of conditions can cause dry mouth, including diabetes, smoking and many medications. If medication causes dry mouth, switching to a different medication may solve the problem.

Dry mouth can be treated by drinking extra water or using mouth moisturizer.

Diet and Thrush

Candida Albicans thrives in an environment with plenty of sugar. As a result, people practicing thrush infection control should watch their diet for foods that are high in sugar or yeast. Foods to avoid include:

  • beer
  • bread
  • soda
  • wine.

Other Methods of Infection Control

The immune systems of infants take time to mature. This is one reason infants have such a high rate of oral thrush. Breastfeeding helps bolster a baby’s immune system.

People with suppressed immune systems may require regular antibiotics or antifungal drugs as part of oral thrush infection control. Frequent use of antifungal medications, however, can result in drug-resistant strains of thrush.

Exercise, healthy eating habits and good oral hygiene can all strengthen the immune system, lowering the risk of oral thrush infection.

Resources

iVillage Total Health. (reviewed 31 October 2006). Prevention methods for thrush. Retrieved July 12, 2007, from the iVillage Web site: www.oral.health.ivillage.com/oralinfections/thrush7.cfm.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (19 August 2005). Oral thrush: Prevention. Retrieved July 12, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: www.mayoclinic.com/health/oral-thrush/DS00408/DSECTION=8.