How common is oral thrush?

If you have dry mouth, high blood sugar levels, or if you smoke or take antibiotics, you are more likely to have fungal infections in your mouth. Thrush is such a fungal infection. It appears to occur more frequently among people with diabetes but it is also common among denture wearers and people who are very young or elderly.

Thrush causes white or red patches in the mouth that may be sore or may become ulcers. It may attack the tongue and cause a painful, burning sensation. This can make it difficult to swallow and dull your sense of taste. Regular oral hygiene can help keep thrush in check. If necessary, your dentist may prescribe antifungal medications to treat this condition.

Oral thrush is very common, especially among newborn babies and those with compromised immune systems. Oral thrush is quite common among diabetics and those who wear dentures. For the most part, oral thrush is a minor infection.

Joan Haizlip, MSN
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Oral thrush is a common yeast infection of the mouth, caused by candida albicans. Oral thrush appears as tiny, white spots on your tongue and on the lining of your mouth, including the roof of your mouth, your gums and even your tonsils. It is common in babies and people who wear dentures. In many people, oral thrush is a minor problem, but if you have a weakened immune system, it can cause internal problems.
As many as 37% of newborns develop oral thrush, a mouth infection caused by yeast, in their first months of life. It's also common in toddlers and the elderly, especially those who wear dentures. People who smoke are also at increased risk, as are those with weak immune systems, pregnant women, and people with uncontrolled diabetes, HIV infection, cancer, or dry mouth. At the first outbreak of oral thrush, red or pink patches form on your tongue and mouth but can spread to other parts of your body. Your mouth may become sore, you may find swallowing difficult, and you may even lose your taste for food.

While classical oral thrush is caused by the yeast, Candida albicans, our studies have demonstrated that especially in denture wearers and in debilitated patients, other forms of yeasts and even bacteria may cause the same symptoms. Interestingly, many of these "other yeasts or bacteria" are not susceptible to the medication used to treat Candida albicans. Even more complicated, if the patient wears an acrylic appliance such as a denture or partial denture or even a mouth-guard, these devices become contaminated and act reservoirs for re-infection. Dr. G.

Dianne Parker
Dianne Parker on behalf of MDLIVE

Oral thrush is common in infants because their immune systems are not fully developed and they cannot fight off this fungal infection completely. The risk for infection is also increased if formula or breast milk is allowed to pool in the infant’s mouth and become a medium for the fungus to grow.

Continue Learning about Oral Thrush

How do I manage my oral thrush on a daily basis?
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How can thrush be prevented?
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How do other illnesses affect oral thrush?
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Other illnesses, particularly those that make your immune system weak, can make it more likely that ...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.