Oral thrush (mouth thrush)

Oral thrush is usually harmless. It's common in babies and older people with dentures. It can be easily treated with medicines prescribed by a GP.

Check if it’s oral thrush

Adults

Other symptoms in adults are:

  • cracks at the corners of the mouth
  • not tasting things properly
  • an unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • pain inside the mouth, for example a sore tongue or sore gums
  • difficulty eating and drinking

Oral thrush in adults isn’t contagious.

Babies

Other symptoms in babies are:

  • they don't want to feed
  • nappy rash

Babies can pass oral thrush on through breastfeeding. This can cause nipple thrush in mothers.

If you're not sure it's oral thrush

Look at other causes of white or sore tongue.

See a GP if:

  • you have symptoms of oral thrush
  • your baby has symptoms of oral thrush
  • you're breastfeeding and your nipples are cracked, dry, painful, sensitive or have changed colour - these can be signs of nipple thrush

If you leave oral thrush untreated the infection can spread to other parts of your body.

How you can prevent oral thrush

Thrush is an infection caused by a fungus called Candida. Some things can make the fungus grow more than usual.

You might get thrush if you're:

  • taking antibiotics over a long time
  • using asthma inhalers
  • getting cancer treatment like chemotherapy

There are some things you can do to help prevent oral thrush:

Do

  • take care of your teeth: brush twice a day, clean your dentures, go for regular check-ups even if you have dentures
  • brush your gums and tongue with a soft toothbrush (if you don’t have any teeth)
  • sterilise dummies and bottles regularly
  • rinse your mouth after eating or taking medicine
  • go to regular check-ups if you have a long-term condition like diabetes

Don't

  • wear your dentures at night
  • keep wearing dentures if they don’t fit properly - see your dentist
  • smoke

Call 111

If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.

We are testing a new page. Tell us what you think or go back to the current site.