How Long Does Oral Thrush Last Without Treatment?

In this brief article we are going to learn about how long oral thrush lasts without taking any treatment. We will also learn about oral thrush in detail.

How Long Does Oral Thrush Last Without Treatment?

Oral thrush is a non life threatening infection of the mouth and the surrounding region which typically goes away within a few weeks. Without treatment it can take a few days to upto a few weeks for oral thrush to heal if the infection is mild. In case of severe infection, a case of oral thrush can last up to several weeks. 

However, this does not mean that oral thrush should be left untreated. Any infection in the body needs to be treated appropriately. An untreated case of oral thrush can lead to severe complications if a person’s immunity is compromised. Oral thrush can spread to other organs in the body in an immunocompromised patient. The heart and the lungs are the most commonly affected organs out of all. Therefore, if you feel you have an oral thrush, you should visit your dentist and get proper medical treatment for it.

What Is Oral Thrush?

Oral thrush, also known as Candidiasis, is a fungal infection of the mouth and perioral region. It is also known as yeast infection and it commonly targets the inner side of  cheeks, inside of the lips,the throat,  the tongue or the palate. 

Oral thrush is a common fungal infection that affects many people. It is known by different names depending upon the area infected. When it occurs on the corners of the mouth, it is known as angular cheilitis. In case top of the tongue is involved, the condition is known as median rhomboid glossitis, rhomboid as the fungus target the tongue is a rhomboid shaped lesion and when the gums get infected, it is called linear gingival erythema.

Oral thrush can be classified into three categories:

  • Pseudomembranous
  • Erythematous
  • Hyperplastic

Pseudomembranous is the most common form of candida infection in the mouth. In erythematous form of oral thrush, or  atrophic form, the infected region is red and inflamed instead of white plaques. The hyperplastic form is the least common variant of oral thrush. It is seen as thick plaque like deposits and is most common amongst HIV patients. This  type of oral thrush is also known as plaque like candidiasis and nodular candidiasis. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Oral Thrush?

White or cream coloured plaque like film on the infected area is the most common sign of oral thrush is. It is difficult to remove and the skin underneath starts bleeding when the plaque is scraped off. Pain, stinging and a high burning sensation is also common. Many times the smaller plaque lesions will join together and make a bigger lesion, which may turn yellow in colour. Bad odor is not associated with an oral thrush.

The white plaque is the candida fungus with its spores extending into the skin underneath and when these spores are scraped off, the area starts to bleed. No matter how much you scrape off the white plaque, it will grow back and the pain and burning will only worsen. If candida infection happens on the corners of the mouth, opening the mouth can become an extremely painful experience and you may not be able to open the mouth normally as before.

Sometimes, white plaque may not form in the infected area. The area only remains red, swollen and irritated. Cracks may also develop and these cracks have a burning sensation. 

Can You Get An Oral Thrush?

No person is immune to oral thrush. Children, adults and older people can get an oral thrush. Though it is more commonly seen in females, males have a high chance of getting infected too.. Elderly people, especially the ones who wear dentures are the most common population to get oral thrush

Candida albicans is the fungus that causes oral thrush. This fungus is present in many parts of the body including the mouth and genital tracts. Around 75% of the population is a carrier of candida. However, not everyone will develop the infection. Oral thrush is an opportunistic infection. This means that it infects a person when their immunity lowers. As soon as the body’s immunity weakens, this fungus tries to overgrow and infects the mouth.

The following people are more prone to oral thrush:

  • Denture wearers : dentures that are not kept clean, ill fitting and loose.
  • Diabetics: people with diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetes, have a high chance of getting oral thrush. Diabetic people are prone to developing many other infections as well, diabetic foot being another common condition. Read this article to know more about how your immunity gets affected in diabetes..
  • People on antibiotics: antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria. This gives a favorable environment for candida to grow. When a person takes antibiotics, the bacteria responsible for stopping candida from growing dies too, leading to the growth of candida.
  • Dry mouth: this condition causes microorganisms to flourish in the mouth as the lack of enough saliva impedes the flushing action of saliva in the mouth. This condition is also known as xerostomia.
  • People on steroids: long term steroid use suppresses the immunity which in turn can lead to oral thrush.
  • Excessive mouthwash users: excessive mouthwash use can also kill the good bacteria which stop candida from growing, ultimately causing oral thrush.
  • Smokers: the mechanism is not quite clear, but oral thrush is common in heavy smokers. One of the reasons to be believed is that smoking causes dryness of the mouth which could be a reason for oral thrush.
  • Malnourished people: Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common reasons for weakened immunity.

What Is The Treatment For Oral Thrush?

The firstline treatment of oral thrush is taking an oral antifungal medication and using a topical antifungal ointment as well. Clotrimazole, miconazole and nystatin are the most commonly used oral antifungal as well as ointments used for oral thrush. Topical application of an antifungal ointment is to be till from 7 to 14 days, depending upon the prescribed dose by the doctor. 

Another potent antifungal medication used for oral thrush as well as yeast infection elsewhere in the body is Flucanozole. It is also available on both oral as well as topical formulation. Taking multivitamins along with oral antifungal medication is important as these medications can take a toll on the immune system of the body.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is key to avoiding oral thrush. People who wear dentures should ensure that their dentures are cleaned everyday properly. Any ill fitting denture should be brought to the attention of the dentist immediately so that it can be corrected. Taking a proper balanced diet is essential to have a healthy immune system. If you suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency, take vitamin supplements. Avoid overuse of mouthwash and only rinse your mouth with it twice a day. If you suffer from dry mouth, speak with your dentist so that the underlying cause for dryness in the mouth can be found out and treated subsequently. Lastly, avoid smoking!

 Smoking has a plethora of harmful effects, lung cancer being one of them. Therefore, it is important to quit smoking for your own healthy life and the ones who live with you as well, because the smoke from the cigarette which is inhaled by other people is equally dangerous, a phenomenon known as passive smoking.

Frequently Asked Questions (How Long Does Oral Thrush Last Without Treatment)

Does oral thrush get worse if untreated?

Yes, untreated oral thrush can lead to complications in the body. It can spread to other parts of the body and cause systemic infection, which can have serious consequences. It is important to get oral thrush treated as soon as you notice the signs and symptoms of oral thrush in your mouth. 

Should you scrape an oral thrush?

It is not advisable to scrape an oral thrush. Scraping will remove the superficial plaque deposits and it may feel like the infection is gone, but this is not the case. The plaque will form once again within a matter of hours and scraping will cause bleeding and burning of the area. Your doctor may want to scarpe the thrush for a swab test to get the lab investigation done for confirming the diagnosis. However, this is done to investigate the kind of infection that you have. Therefore, you should not scrape off oral thrush.

Can stress and anxiety cause oral thrush?

Stress and anxiety are not common trigger factors for oral thrush. However, it is well documented in medical literature that stress and anxiety can lead to low immunity. This in turn can provide the favorable environment for candida to grow and can cause thrush.

What can you eat if you have an oral thrush?

Foods that will hurt and sting the infected area should be avoided. If thrush lesions are present on the throat, swallowing can be an uncomfortable process. It is better to eat soft food, with no spices in order to ensure minimum stinging and easier swallowing. Foods like yoghurt, porridge, and soups can be eaten easily.

Does thrush make you feel tired?

Yes, thrush can lead to tiredness and fatigue. These are the most commonly experienced symptoms of thrush in people. As the immunity is also lowered when thrush develops, it can take a toll on the body and make a person feel tired and exhausted.


Even though oral thrush is usually a mild infection and rarely causes systemic complications, it should not be taken lightly. Microorganisms invading the body should now be ignored. You should visit your dentist immediately if you notice any signs and symptoms of oral thrush. Getting treated on time will ensure optimum health and avoid any chances of further complications caused by spread of this infection.  


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