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Alabama Family Dentistry | Thrush in Newborn Babies and Older Adults | Alabama Family Dentistry

Thrush in Newborn Babies and Older Adults

photo of white coating on a baby's tongue. Oral thrush.

Thrush in Newborn Babies and Older Adults

Posted by Alabama Family Dentistry in Dental Conditions 02 Jan 2018

Oral thrush is a common condition in newborn babies and older adults. That’s good to know, you say, but what is thrush and why is it common for them?

What is Thrush

Thrush is an infection of a yeast fungus, known as Candida albicans, which appears as white, slightly raised areas in your mouth. They’re usually found on the tongue or inner cheeks. They can also appear on the roof of the mouth, gums, tonsils, or the back of the throat. These areas may look like cottage cheese. These patches can be wiped away as well, but will often leave red, sore spots, and can sometimes result in bleeding.

Small amounts of the candida fungus are normally in the mouth, digestive tract, and skin. It’s supposed to be there, and it’s usually kept under control by the other bacteria in your body. The immune system controls this and stops illness from occurring.

Why is Thrush Common for Newborn Babies and Older Adults

Because the immune system in newborn babies is still developing, they are more likely to contract thrush.

Likewise, since upper dentures are common in older adults, studies show that a large percentage develop stomatitis, and the studies show that 90% of these adults with stomatitis contract thrush.

How is Thrush Contracted

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. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 37% of newborns develop oral thrush.

The most common causes of thrush in adults is improper cleaning, neglectful nighttime removal of an upper denture, and irregular fitting dentures.

In addition, a number of other medical conditions can cause thrush, so be alert. They are:
• Stress
• Uncontrolled diabetes
• HIV infection
• Cancer
• Dry mouth
• Hormonal changes that happen with pregnancy

How can Thrush be Avoided

In general practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Get regular checkups and have your teeth cleaned every 6 months. Make sure you don’t overuse mouthwashes or sprays. Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash once or twice a day to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Using any more than that may upset the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth.

For newborn babies follow these guidelines:

• If you bottle feed your baby, clean and sterilize all equipment, including nipples. Clean and sterilize pacifiers and other toys that go in baby’s mouth. Change diapers often to help prevent yeast from causing diaper rash. Be sure to treat your nipples if you have a yeast infection.
• Clean your baby’s mouth after each feeding with a sterile gauze or clean washcloth dipped in warm water, and then wipe away any milk residue.
• If you notice any of the signs of thrush on your breasts or in your child’s mouth, call your doctor and your baby’s doctor. You will both need to be treated to prevent passing the infection back and forth to each other.
• it may be helpful to use probiotics (acidophus, etc.) as a preventative Because thrush is often triggered by antibiotics, don’t give these medications to your baby unless absolutely necessary. (Antibiotics don’t help against viral infections.)
• Cleaning and sterilizing pacifiers also may help. And some providers advise breastfeeding mothers to let their nipples air dry between feedings to help prevent thrush.

Older adults should follow these guidelines:


• take care of your teeth: brush twice a day, clean your dentures, go for regular check-ups even if you have dentures
• brush your gums and tongue with a soft toothbrush (if you don’t have any teeth)
• rinse your mouth after eating or taking medicine
• go to regular check-ups if you have a long-term condition like diabetes


• wear your dentures at night
• keep wearing dentures if they don’t fit properly – see your dentist

How is Thrush Treated

Thrush is easy to treat in healthy children and adults. But the symptoms may be worse and harder to treat in people with weak immune systems.

Your doctor or dentist will prescribe antifungal medications that you’ll have to take for 10 to 14 days. These come in tablets, lozenges, or liquids, and are generally easy to take.

Thrush can also be treated with these home remedies. Make sure to consult your doctor or dentist before you follow any of these treatments.
• Drink cold liquids, such as water or iced tea, or eat flavored ice treats or frozen juices.
• Eat foods that are easy to swallow such as gelatin, ice cream, or custard.
• If the patches are painful, try drinking from a straw.
• Rinse your mouth several times a day with a warm saltwater rinse.

The qualified, experienced dental care professionals at Alabama Family Dentistry are here to respond to any of your dental needs. If you or another family member are experiencing any of the symptoms of thrush contact us immediately at any of our 4 offices located conveniently in Warrior, Fultondale, Sumiton, and Birmingham. Your smile means the world to us.

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