Is oral thrush serious?

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 is usually not serious but appears to occur more frequently among people with diabetes. 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 usually a minor infection, especially in adults and children who are otherwise healthy. If oral thrush spreads into the esophagus, it can become serous. In those with compromised immune systems, oral thrush can easily spread throughout the body and become serious or even life-threatening.

Oral thrush is produced by an overgrowth of a yeast (Candida). In the mouth, it basically reflects a mouth that is out of balance. If untreated, it has the potential to spead to other organ systems like the GI tract, the lungs, and even the heart.
In healthy people, oral thrush, or candidiasis, isn't usually serious. However, it can be a sign of an underlying health problem like diabetes. People with diabetes have excess sugar in their saliva which feeds the fungus that causes thrush. If you have a weakened immune system because of conditions such as HIV/AIDS or cancer, you're more susceptible to oral thrush, which can spread through the body as a serious systemic infection. You're also at high risk  of thrush if you're on antibiotics or certain other drugs, such as prednisone or steroids for asthma.
It in itself may not be serious but the fact that one has thrush may be serious. Causes can include dry mouth from medications or other systemic conditions, radiation treatment, antibiotics and AIDS.

If you have thrush, make sure it is understood what the cause is.

Continue Learning about Oral Thrush

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American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
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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.