A bowl of plain yogurt sitting on a table, next to a wooden spoon
Eating yogurt is a great alternative to taking probiotic supplements.

Oral Thrush Treatment Options

If you develop a curious grayish-white film on your tongue, it may be a case of oral thrush. Fortunately, oral thrush infections rarely result in significant complications, and most cases of oral thrush clear up after using a few simple at-home treatments listed below.

Oral candidiasis, more commonly known as oral thrush, is a fungal infection. Yeast, also called Candida albicans, is a fungus. This fungus is a part of the mouth’s normal flora. Normal flora refers to the microorganisms that typically exist on or inside an animal (including humans) that are beneficial for its health.

Sometimes, however, these microorganisms can multiply beyond what is healthy for the body. In the case of oral thrush, yeast overgrows, causing the white layer that’s the hallmark of an oral thrush infection.

Effective At-home Treatments for Oral Thrush

At-home treatments for oral thrush focus keeping the growth of Candida albicans in check. The following are five of the most effective home treatments using just a few items from the supermarket or drugstore.

1. Use an Oral Baking Soda Rinse

Sodium bicarbonate, more commonly known as baking soda, is excellent at limiting Candida overgrowth in the mouth. Baking soda creates the oral pH balance necessary to prevent yeast from multiplying. Research into baking soda reinforces its use as a viable disinfectant or treatment, particularly for Candida albicans overgrowth.

The following process for baking soda rinse can help manage oral thrush:

  1. Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into 1 cup of lukewarm water.
  2. Mix in the baking soda until completely dissolved.
  3. Rinse and swish with the solution.
  4. Spit out the solution. Rinse lightly with water.
  5. Perform twice-a-day until the oral thrush infection resolves.

2. Take Probiotic Supplements

Oral over-the-counter probiotic supplements can help manage the Candida fungus. Studies into probiotics demonstrate that these supplements are effective alternative treatments for Candida infections like oral thrush. Probiotic supplements are also easy to use and have minimal side effects.

Additionally, probiotics are beneficial for digestive health. Probiotics promote the growth of beneficial micro-organisms within the digestive tract, which may help to improve immunity, reduce harmful microorganisms and improve absorption of nutrients. In short, probiotic supplements may improve overall health as well suppress Candida growth.

3. Eat Some Yogurt

Yogurt is an excellent alternative for people who prefer not to take probiotic supplements, but still want the same results. The bacteria cultures contained in yogurt help reduce the overgrowth of Candida albicans, both in the mouth and in the digestive tract.

Furthermore, yogurt is the perfect texture and consistency for severe cases of oral thrush. Its soft, cool texture soothes tender areas infected by oral thrush. Eating unsweetened yogurt twice a day is a simple yet effective at-home treatment for oral thrush.

4. Try an Oral Turmeric Rinse

The curcumin in turmeric is responsible for the spice’s vivid yellow-gold color. It’s also what gives turmeric its superfood status. Turmeric works as an antioxidant, reduces chronic inflammation, prevents high cholesterol and prevents the overgrowth of Candida albicans.

To manage oral thrush using turmeric:

  1. Incorporate about a 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric with about 1 cup of water or milk.
  2. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Heat on the stove until warm.
  4. Consume the warm solution or use it as a rinse.
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5. Gargle with Saltwater

Saltwater works as both an antiseptic and a pain-reliever, making it a good choice to use as an oral thrush remedy. Drop a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and mix thoroughly. Swish and gargle with the solution for a minute twice a day to reduce oral thrush symptoms.

What Causes Oral Thrush?

For the most part, the body can maintain an appropriate balance of micro-organisms in the mouth. However, when the immune system is weak or when other microorganisms are off-kilter, microbes can multiply past the normal amount. An overgrowth of Candida creates a thick, white coating on the tongue and cheeks, leading to oral thrush.

Anyone can become infected with oral thrush. However, some individuals are more at risk than others for developing an oral thrush infection. Common risk factors for oral thrush are:

Older adults, infants, young children and people with weakened immune systems are more prone to developing oral thrush than the general population. For example, individuals infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at a higher risk for oral thrush infections due to their compromised immune systems.

What Symptoms Occur with Oral Thrush?

The most noticeable sign of oral thrush is a white coating on the tongue, roof of the mouth, inner cheeks area or gums. Sometimes, oral thrush can extend as far back as the tonsils.

Other symptoms of oral thrush include:

  • Cottonmouth.
  • Pain or difficulty swallowing.
  • Redness inside of the mouth.
  • Loss of taste.
  • Bleeding in the mouth.
  • Loss of the sense of taste.
  • Redness throughout the inside of the mouth.
  • Fever, which is a sign that the infection has progressed past the esophagus.

Although most cases of oral thrush are not life-threatening, consulting with a health professional for symptoms of oral thrush is recommended—especially for babies, older adults or individuals with a compromised immune system. If necessary, a physician may prescribe an antifungal to help severe cases or shorten the duration of an infection.

If left untreated, oral thrush may progress past the esophagus which necessitates immediate medical attention.

Relieving Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is a common infection that’s easily treated using home remedies. If you’ve tried to manage oral thrush at home without success, then it’s time to consult with a health professional. Prescription antifungals can resolve oral thrush quickly, preventing the infection from getting worse.