Thrush in mouth: oral yeast infections

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Oral yeast infections, called oral thrush, are a common infection that occurs in your mouth. Infections are typically most common in populations of people with compromised immune systems such as babies, the elderly, and people with disease that impact the immune system¹. Although having oral thrush is uncomfortable, it is not life threatening and can be cleared up with medication.

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Does dental insurance cover oral thrush in your mouth?

Dental insurance plans do typically cover the medications that treat oral thrush. As a fungal infection of the mouth your dentist may prescribe an oral antifungal medication or lozenges to treat the infection. Treatments can last a few weeks² for severe infections, however, less severe infections may not take as long to treat. Although oral thrush can be uncomfortable and painful, treatment is typically non-invasive and mild cases can clear up without any treatment at all.

As with other infections and diseases, oral thrush may impact different people in different ways. For some it painful and hard to swallow, for others there is just a mild rash. If you suspect that you have oral thrush see a dentist as soon as possible because the infection can spread if left untreated.

Who typically gets oral thrush in their mouth?

Adults with healthy immune systems do not typically get oral thrush because their immune response is strong enough to prevent the yeast infection from becoming noticeable. When an adult with a healthy immune system does get oral thrush, the case is typically mild and typically clears up quickly with little or no medication needed³.

However, for people with less developed or weakened immune systems, oral thrush may typically be more severe. As a fungal infection, oral thrush typically impacts people with weakened immune systems such as babies and the elderly more frequently⁴. Babies do not have a well-developed immune system yet, making them more likely to get oral thrush. Babies also can spread oral thrush to their mother while breast feeding, meaning that if a baby is diagnosed with oral thrush, it is also a good idea for the mother to be treated for it as well⁵. By treating both the mother and her baby the dentist or doctor can help stop the spread of thrush back and for between mother and child.

As we age our immune systems typically become weaker making the elderly more likely to get oral thrush in their mouth as well. Older patients also typically experience more pain associated with thrush, with this in mind a dentist may also prescribe pain medication in addition to anti-fungal medication to treat the infection.

There are other common factors that may increase your risk of oral thrush including:

  • Diabetes – people with diabetes can have an increase in sugar in their saliva along with a weakened resistant to disease making their mouth a good environment for oral thrush to develop⁶.

  • Wearing dentures – when not cleaned properly every day, dentures can become an ideal place for the oral thrush fungus, or oral candidiasis to thrive⁷.

  • Smoking – smoking tobacco stimulates the growth of Candida fungus within the mouth⁸.

  • HIV/AIDS – patients with HIV or AIDS may experience oral thrush more often because of their suppressed immune system. Oral thrush is often one of the first detectable signs that a person is immunocompromised⁹.

  • Cancer – the treatments for cancer, along with the disease itself, can cause your immune system to be suppressed which allows for oral thrush to take hold more often¹⁰.

No matter what the cause of oral thrush is your dental insurance may typically cover the medication and treatment of the condition. Although rarely serious, it is important to see a dentist early if you suspect that you have oral thrush because when caught early it is typically easier to treat.

Are there candida symptoms I should be aware of?

The common symptoms that are most noticeable include pain, rashes, or lesions in the mouth. Pain associated with oral thrush can cause soreness or a burning sensation when swallowing or eating¹¹. There also can be mild bleeding associated with the lesions when they are scraped or rubbed. Your dentist will look for lesions and signs of spreading so that they can prescribe the best treatment to stop the spread to other parts of your body.

Although rashes are typically an easy way to detect candida there are also a few other symptoms that you can look for. Common symptoms of oral thrush in adults include¹²:

  • White or creamy patches in the mouth, throat, or cheeks.

  • Painful eating or swallowing

  • Redness and a sore mouth or throat

  • Inability to taste as well as before

  • Cracking at the edges of the mouth

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms your dentist can verify whether you have oral thrush or try to determine if there is another issue. Your dentist will also be able to prescribe you medication that is typically covered by your dental insurance.

Should I panic if I have oral candidiasis?

If you have oral thrush, there is no reason to panic. In fact, the fungus that causes oral thrush is a common fungus, called Candida albicans, that is found on our bodies and in our mouths¹³. For healthy individuals, oral thrush is typically mild and can be cleared up with antifungal medication. Although thrush is not life-threatening, it can become painful if not treated quickly.

To diagnose oral thrush your dentist will do an oral exam to look for signs of thrush including redness, white patches in the mouth, and lesions. You dentist also may take a throat culture or look at the fungus under a microscope to confirm whether the Candida fungus is present. In extreme cases, or if the dentist suspects that the infection has moved down the esophagus, they may order an endoscopy to determine the extent of the infection¹⁴.

These tests may or may not be covered depending on your level of insurance. Many dental insurance carriers do cover oral thrush medication. However, before undergoing any treatment, you should discuss your coverage with your dentist to determine whether a medication will be covered or not.

Can I buy oral thrush dental insurance?

Although most dental insurance carriers do cover the medicine used to treat the infection, there is typically no coverage related specifically to oral thrush. Typically, your dentist will be able to clear up the infection using medicine alone so there really is no need to have specific oral thrush coverage.

Oral thrush varies greatly depending on your personal health history and lifestyle. Being immunocompromised typically causes symptoms to be much more severe and harder to treat than in person with a strong immune system. Therefore, the symptoms will not be the same for any two people, making it difficult to create a one size fits all insurance plan covering all symptoms for oral thrush specifically

Oral thrush care pain & related Insights

Although oral thrush is typically not painful in mild cases, it can become painful as the case gets more severe. Also, for seniors and small children oral thrush can be painful due their weaker immune systems. For these patients, or any patient experiencing pain associated with oral thrush, your dentist may also prescribe pain medication as well.

If you have a compromised immune system or have a history of battling oral thrush it can be a good idea to look for a dental plan that helps cover the medication associated with treating thrush. When you are shopping for a dental insurance plan it is important to understand the ins-and-outs of each plan including coverage, network, and all associated costs. Guardian Direct® has resources available on our website that can help you do research so that you can make informed decision for you and your family.

Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.

Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.


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