Oral Thrush During Pregnancy | How to Treat it?

Oral Thrush During Pregnancy

Witnessing a creamy white buildup on your gums and tongue while you are pregnant can be scary. However, it is a relatively common condition known as Oral Thrush. Studies indicate that approximately 20-38% of pregnant women experience an oral thrush during pregnancy. 

But what exactly causes it? And, more importantly, how can it be cured? In this article, we will get into the details of oral thrush during pregnancy and its practical solutions, so stay tuned. 

What is Oral Thrush?

Oral thrush is characterized by creamy white lesions in different areas of your mouth, resembling the thrush bird, known for its distinctive white spots. It is a fungal infection primarily caused by a yeast called Candida Albicans. 

Candida, typically present in the mouths of almost 50% of the population, can become problematic when the balance of oral microorganisms is disrupted. Hence, it is called an opportunistic pathogen. 

What Causes Oral Thrush during Pregnancy?

Two main theories can explain oral thrush in women during pregnancy. Firstly, the physiological changes in the body during pregnancy can disrupt the average balance of microorganisms, making it favorable for the pathogens to thrive. Additionally, during pregnancy, the female body focuses on nurturing the developing baby, compromising its own immunity. Hence, pregnant women are predisposed to oral thrush due to the following reasons,

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • High blood sugar levels
  • Prenatal medications
  • Compromised immunity

Generally, yeast infections tend to occur at any time throughout the nine months. However, they most commonly occur during the second trimester. That being said, some women are more likely to get oral thrush during pregnancy. Following are the risk factors that predispose one to oral thrush. 

  • Antibiotics and Steroids
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Mucosal trauma by dentures
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Antidepressants
  • Dry mouth
  • Radiotherapy
  • Systemic diseases like AIDS, diabetes, anemia

What are the Symptoms of Oral Thrush?

Oral thrush during pregnancy can manifest on any mucosal surface of the mouth. It can vary in size, from small drop-like areas to confluent plaques covering a wide area. The affected area is most commonly seen to be covered by a soft, white coating. Thrush is differentiated from other oral pathologies by its ability to be scraped off. On scraping, it leaves a red, raw, and often bleeding base. 

The most common sites are the tongue and insides of the cheek, whereas the roof of the mouth, gums, and tonsils are rarely affected. The slightly raised oral thrush lesions resemble cottage cheese and give a cottony feel. Sometimes, burning or discomfort is felt during mastication, accompanied by loss of taste. 

In some instances, oral thrush during pregnancy is accompanied by other oral infections, such as, 

  • Periodontitis (inflammation of gums and surrounding tissues)
  • Linear gingival erythema (a band of inflamed mucosa over gums)
  • Angular cheilitis (cracked and sore corners of the mouth)
  • Linear gingival erythema (a band of inflamed mucosa over gums)
  • Median rhomboid glossitis (a large red area of inflammation in the middle of the tongue)
  • Denture stomatitis (burning and irritation under dentures)

How to Treat Oral Thrush during Pregnancy?

If mild, oral thrush can go away on its own. However, to treat oral thrush during pregnancy, you can consider two options. Firstly, you can try home remedies. Many people use simple techniques at home to avoid potential adverse effects on the baby. If home remedies do not treat it, take medicinal support by consulting a specialist. 

Home Remedies:

The treatment for oral thrush pregnancy using home remedies starts with taking care of your oral hygiene. It involves brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing regularly to prevent the infection from worsening and minimize its effects. 

However, it is advised not to use any mouthwash during this time as it can disrupt the beneficial normal flora, worsening the condition. Some helpful home remedies are listed below,

  • Doing saltwater rinses.
  • Doing gargles with baking soda in water.
  • Taking foods with probiotics.
  • Taking a diet rich in vitamin C. 
  • Thorough cleaning under dentures and regular disinfection.

Medicinal Remedies:

While treating the oral thrush medically, it is best to do so in the second trimester as it is considered the safe trimester due to the lesser risk of miscarriages. Your doctor will prescribe you an antifungal gel to fight thrush. Some of the safe antifungal medications are, 

  • Nystatin
  • Miconazole
  • Clotrimazole

Fluconazole, a potent antifungal, should be avoided as it is associated with musculoskeletal malformations if taken during the first trimester. If not treated timely, oral thrush can predispose your mouth to other potentially fatal oral pathologies.

Follow-up Care:

Pregnant women should receive follow-up care after experiencing oral thrush. Through regular monitoring, your healthcare provider can access treatment progress, monitor healing, and detect recurrence if it occurs. Discuss any new symptoms with your dentist. 

It is also recommended for breastfeeding mothers to undergo screening after childbirth to check for any signs of thrush. Additionally, maintaining good oral hygiene and a balanced diet can aid in preventing future infections. 

How to Prevent Oral Thrush during Pregnancy?

Staying proactive to avoid oral thrush before it occurs is the best way to go about it. Here are some tips to have a thrush-free pregnancy:

  • Eat a healthy diet to strengthen your immunity.
  • Brush and floss regularly.
  • Avoid using mouthwashes.
  • Avoid medications that can disrupt the normal flora.
  • Refrain from wearing ill-fitted dentures and clean them regularly.
  • If you have any systemic diseases, such as AIDS or diabetes, stay in close contact with your physician.
  • Practice stress management as stress increases susceptibility to infection. 
  • Stay hydrated to maintain overall health. 
  • Have regular dental checkups throughout your pregnancy. 


To conclude the discussion, understanding and addressing oral thrush during pregnancy is crucial for maintaining maternal and fetal health. Implementing preventive measures and taking timely action can significantly reduce the risk of complications.

If you are experiencing symptoms of oral thrush or have concerns about your oral health during pregnancy, do not hesitate to reach out to our dentists in Montclair, NJ. Schedule your appointment now with our dental experts in Montclair, NJ, and take your first step towards a healthier future.