/ Oral Health

Thrush — the White Stuff Growing in Your Mouth (and How to Get Rid of it)

What’s that white stuff on your tongue? And why does your mouth feel “funny” — maybe a little bit like sandpaper? Well, my friend, you may have a case of thrush.

Thrush can strike anyone, but some people are far more vulnerable: “We usually see thrush in children whose immune systems are developing, or older adults, whose immune systems are starting to fail,” says otolaryngologist Tony Reisman, MD. “People who have conditions that affect the immune system are also more susceptible.”

Do I have thrush?

It can be challenging to know if your mouth woes are related to the Candida fungus that causes thrush. Common signs include:

Is thrush treatment necessary?

“You may not even need a diagnosis because thrush often goes away on its own once you stop whatever caused the problem,” says Dr. Reisman. “For example, if antibiotics led to thrush, just waiting a few weeks may give the body time to return to a natural yeast balance.”

Dr. Reisman recommends using good oral hygiene for three to four weeks to see if thrush resolves on its own.

When oral thrush just won’t go away

Well, it’s been a few weeks. You’ve been dutifully rinsing your mouth twice a day. But the white stuff is still there. It’s time to call your primary care provider.

Your provider will want to look at your mouth to rule out other causes, including:

If it is thrush, your provider will likely order an antifungal rinse. You’ll swish, swish, swish for 10 to 14 days, which will help the body regain the natural yeast balance.

But if your symptoms still don’t improve, or you have recurrent episodes of thrush, visit an ear, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) to discuss the diagnosis and treatment.

Prevent thrush from creating chaos in your mouth

People who are prone to thrush — whether from dentures, immune system-suppressing drugs or a condition such as HIV — can take steps to avoid it (because you can’t be on an antifungal medication forever).

Dr. Reisman recommends these behaviors to prevent thrush:

Related Articles

March 3, 2020 / Family Medicine
March 3, 2020 / Family Medicine

What Is Magic Mouthwash?

December 17, 2019 / Family Medicine
December 17, 2019 / Family Medicine

What Your Tongue Can Tell You About Your Health

May 11, 2015 / Pediatrics
May 11, 2015 / Pediatrics

Your Child’s Fevers: 5 Common Myths Debunked

March 22, 2021 / Diabetes & Endocrinology
March 22, 2021 / Diabetes & Endocrinology

Why Do I Have a Sweet Taste In My Mouth?

December 28, 2020 / Cancer Care
December 28, 2020 / Cancer Care

7 Things You Probably Don’t Know About HPV

September 13, 2019 / Cancer Care
September 13, 2019 / Cancer Care

Throat Cancer’s Link to Oral Sex: What You Should Know