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Home treatments for adult mouth thrush

Updated July 18, 2017

Thrush is a commonly occurring mouth infection caused by the overgrowth of the fungal organism Candida albicans. Thrush most commonly affects infants, but it can occur in adults as well. Thrush infection in adults is usually caused by antibiotic use which has killed off naturally occurring bacteria allowing Candida to flourish. Symptoms of adult thrush infection include burning, sensitive tongue, redness, inflammation and the development of white patchy spots on the tongue and inside the mouth. Thrush can be treated by use of a prescription anti-fungal, but many find relief with more natural home treatments.

Dietary Remedies

Natural yoghurt contains Lactobacillus bacteria cultures which aid in restoring the beneficial bacteria needed for proper digestion and limitation of Candida growth. Eating yoghurt with live cultures can help reduce the symptoms of thrush. It is also beneficial to swish the yoghurt around the mouth to ensure that the yoghurt gets to all of the mouth tissues. Most brand name yoghurts and natural yoghurts contain live cultures, but many house brand or generic types may have been heat pasteurised which will kill the Lactobacillus bacteria and eliminate health benefits so be sure to purchase only yoghurt that states that it contains live cultures on the label.

One tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar added to a half cup of water may be used as a mouthwash. Drinking the solution may have some added health benefits as well as apple cider vinegar is known to contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants helpful for its ability to combat Candida infections and support the immune system. This method can be repeated once or twice daily. Raw unfiltered apple cider that has not been pasteurised will be widely available at health food stores and at some large grocery stores.

Herbal Remedies

Tea tree oil (also called malaleuca), oregano oil, lavender oil and clove oil are all thought to have anti-infective properties which will aid in treating adult mouth thrush. A few drops of one of these oils may be added to toothpaste before brushing. When using the toothpaste application method, the tongue should be lightly brushed as well and the toothpaste mixture should be swished around the mouth before rinsing. A mouthwash solution may also be made by adding a few drops of one of the oils to a few ounces of warm water. Swish well and spit out the mouthwash solution and repeat two or three times daily. Tea tree oil and clove oil may be purchases at most large grocery stores and drugstores along with health food stores but oregano and lavender oil will most like be available only at a health food store.

Boric acid is also thought to have antifungal properties. One fourth teaspoon in 1 cup of water used as a mouthwash to swish and spit may be of some benefit in the treatment of adult thrush. Though boric acid is not harmful in small amounts, the mixture should most likely be spit out and not swallowed to avoid stomach upset.

Facts about Thrush

Candida albicans is the fungal organism that causes yeast infections. It causes this in the mouth and in many other areas of the body including skin, genital areas and intestines. Candida is normally present in limited amounts all over the body in a balance with many other beneficial bacteria. Candida can cause an infection such as thrush when the normal bacteria are killed by antibiotic use or when the body's immune system is compromised due to disease or medication use. Thrush is most common in infants but also occurs in adults. People who wear dentures, use inhaled steroids for lung disease and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop thrush. These conditions also make it more difficult to treat. If left untreated, it can spread to the throat, nasal passages and gastrointestinal system. Though natural remedies often work effectively, medical attention may be needed for more severe or resistant infections that do not resolve.

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About the Author

Melissa Lind holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas College of Pharmacy. She has over 20 years experience as a health-care professional, including pharmacy practice as a registered pharmacist, and experience in clinical research management and community college instruction in pharmacology and health topics. Lind has been a freelance writer and independent content provider since 2006.