by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Thrush is an infection inside the mouth. It usually begins on the tongue and inside of the cheeks. It can spread to the roof of the mouth, gums, tonsils, and throat.
This health problem is caused by yeast, a type of fungus. It is normally found in the mouth in small amounts. It can cause symptoms when too much of it grows and spreads.
This problem is more common in babies and older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Some people may not have symptoms. Those who do may have:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the mouth. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
If the cause is not clear, a sample of cells may be taken from the mouth for testing. This can be done with an oral swab, scraping, or rinse.
The goal of treatment is to restore the normal balance of yeast in the mouth. Any underlying causes will also be treated.
The risk of this health problem may be lowered by:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Canadian Dental Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
Candida infections of the mouth, throat, and esophagus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/thrush/index.html. Accessed March 25, 2021.
Dentures. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at:
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Accessed March 25, 2021.
Lewis MAO, Williams DW. Diagnosis and management of oral candidosis. Br Dent J. 2017 Nov 10;223(9):675-681.
Oral candidiasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/oral-candidiasis. Accessed March 25, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 3/25/2021