10 Natural Remedies for Thrush in the Mouth
Thrush is a yeast infection in the mouth, and it's most common in newborns and toddlers. Here's a look at some home remedies you could try to treat it.
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Thrush is an infection by the candida fungus—otherwise known as yeast—which causes white raised patches in the mouth that can be painful. It can also be a source of foul breath. “We know that thrush develops with an increase in sugar in the mouth or an altered pH,” says Tasneem Bhatia, MD, an integrative health expert and author of What Doctors Eat. “Both these factors affect the bacterial load in the mouth, encouraging or discouraging yeast growth.” The infection most often occurs in babies, or in children or adults who are using antibiotics or have a compromised immune system.
Probiotics or yogurt
The beneficial bacteria in probiotics and yogurt can help heal thrush in the mouth. “Probiotics or yogurt with active cultures may be helpful to restore the balance of good bacteria in the mouth,” says pediatrician Carrie Brown, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Good oral hygiene
While you’re brushing, make sure you clean not only your teeth but your tongue as well. Those habits—along with rinsing your mouth thoroughly with antiseptic mouthwash—can help in your fight against mouth thrush. Here are more tips on how to brush your teeth the right way.
Salt is essential to flavorful cooking, but its uses extend far beyond the kitchen. One popular use is something doctors often recommend: A salt water rinse to help ease the symptoms of a yeast infection and clean out thrush in mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic. Find out more healthy home remedies right in your spice rack.
A diet change
Yeast feeds on sugar, so some doctors recommend reducing the amount of sugar in your diet if you have thrush—or if you’re breastfeeding an infant with thrush. “Sugar feeds yeast, and any reductions are helpful,” says Dr. Bhatia.
Some natural healers suggest swabbing the inside of the mouth with a solution of two tablespoons of baking soda and one cup of water, to help make the mouth inhospitable to yeast. This is mostly a treatment for adults: Because of concerns about changing a baby’s electrolyte balance, and the possibility of aspirating the solution, Dr. Brown suggests avoiding this remedy for young babies. Find out 18 more home remedies proven to work.
A study published in 2007 in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that coconut oil could help kill at least some strains of bacteria, so swabbing the mouth with coconut oil could potentially help fight the thrush in mouth.
Stronger cleaning techniques
For babies, ensuring that anything they put in their mouth—from spoons and pacifiers to mom’s breast—is exceptionally clean can help reduce reinfection and recurrence. “Working to decrease the amount of yeast on things that go into the baby’s mouth by boiling or washing—in hot water—both bottle nipples and pacifiers can help,” Dr. Brown says.
While home remedies may help, in some cases, you’ll need to see a doctor for a course of anti-fungal medications to clear up thrush in the mouth. “Often an anti-yeast and anti-fungal medication, such as nystatin, is needed if the white patches are large,” Dr. Brown says. “Nystatin works by directly contacting the yeast so be sure to apply it directly onto the white spots as many times a day as you are directed by your doctor.” If you’re breastfeeding an infant who has thrush in the mouth, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream to apply to your breasts to reduce the chance of recurrence. Next, discover the probiotics nutritionist trust most.
- Mayo Clinic: "Oral Thrush."
- Tasneem Bhatia,, MD, integrative health expert and author of What Doctors Eat.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics."
- Carrie Brown, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, Arkansas Children's Hospital, Little Rock, AR.
- Thrush Treatment Center: "Treating Oral Thrush With A Salt Rinse."
- Journal of Medicinal Food: "In Vitro Antimicrobial Properties of Coconut Oil on Candida Species in Ibadan, Nigeria."
- Mayo Clinic: "Tea Tree Oil."
- American Academy of Pediatrics: "Pacifiers."
- Mayo Clinic: "Nystatin (Oral Route)."