Oral thrush is a fungal infection that affects the mouth. It is sometimes referred to as oral candidiasis because it is caused by the group of yeasts known as Candida. Candida is found naturally in the mouths and digestive systems of most people. Normally this yeast is harmless, but it can lead to oral thrush when its numbers multiply. This multiplication can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as:
- Using antibiotics, especially over long periods or at high doses.
- Inhaling corticosteroid medicines (brown inhalers), which are used to treat Asthma.
- Poor oral hygiene.
- Wearing ill-fitting dentures.
- Suffering from dry mouth, which is either caused by a medical condition or as a resulting side-effect from certain medicines.
- Receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy to treat cancer.
Oral thrush is not contagious in the same way a cold is. However, it can be caught through direct contact with the infection, such as kissing. The condition is more likely to affect babies, children, the elderly and those with an underlying condition that makes them more prone to the infection. These conditions include; diabetes, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), HIV, and iron/vitamin B12 deficiencies. Oral thrush is not usually serious and can be successfully treated with a range of antifungal medicines.