Is Thrush in the Mouth Contagious?

Inside of mouth
Inside of mouth (Image: Image by, courtesy of Martin Kingsley)

Thrush is caused by a yeast called candida. Candida is normally found in the human body, but is kept in check by bacteria and other microorganisms. A slight tip in the balance, however, can allow thrush to form.


Inside the mouth, thrush will appear as white lesions, similar to cottage cheese. They can be found on your tongue, inner cheeks, gums and tonsils. If you try to scrape them, they may bleed.


Thrush is contagious. If you've had a case of thrush in the past, you're more susceptible to it.


Denture wearers are in danger of getting thrush due to irritated gums from ill-fitting dentures. Babies often get thrush due to bacteria build-up on pacifiers, nipples or sippy cups. If a mother is breastfeeding, thrush can be transferred to the mother's breast. Asthma inhalers contain corticosteroids. Like antibiotics, corticosteroids upset the natural balance between bacteria and candida.


For asthma patients, using a spacer or rinsing after your inhaler will help reduce your risk. Never share inhalers. Soaking dentures every night in a denture cleaner will help avoid spreading the infection from dentures to the rest of your mouth. Thrush spread through breastfeeding must be treated medically to break the cycle of infection between mother and infant.


Thrush is not a dangerous health issue. With the use of an oral fungal cream called Nystatin, it will clear up within seven to 10 days.

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