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Posted by Dr. Monica Wonnacott | February 23, 2016

What’s This White Stuff In My Baby’s Mouth?

I had a cute mom come in this past week, with a question about “white stuff” in her baby’s mouth. She’s a savvy mom and had already “Googled” what it might be. She was right. It was thrush.

(She was kind enough to let me snap a few pics of her kiddo for you. I know, pretty impressive how I managed to hold open the child’s mouth with a tongue depressor in one hand and snap a pic with the other.)

photo of thrush 1

What is thrush?

Thrush is an infection of the mouth caused by a fungus, Candida. I know what you’re thinking, ‘gross, my baby has some FUNGAL infection? How did he get that?’ Various bacteria and fungus are part of our natural normal flora. It’s only when it overgrows that it can cause infection (candidiasis). It is really common, especially in infants. Certain circumstances put one at higher risk for getting it (illnesses, breastfeeding, not properly cleaning bottles, recent antibiotics, underlying immune problems, etc.)

How do I know if my child has thrush?

Thrush usually presents as white patches on the inside of the mouth. The most common spot is on the insides of the cheeks, but it can be found all over the mouth. If the white is on the tongue alone, it’s probably just milk, which can get stuck in the long taste buds. As a general rule, milk will easily wipe away, whereas thrush will not (again, the tongue being the exception to the rule). Thrush can make a baby fussy and not eat well.

How do I treat thrush?

For this one, you’ll need to see your doctor. The prescription medications typically include Nystatin or Fluconazole. Thrush can be difficult to clear up, so follow instructions on dosing carefully. Also, your doctor should instruct you on proper sterilization of all things that go in your baby’s mouth (binkies, bottles, teething toys, etc.)

How to prevent thrush

As always, prevention is best. Be careful to sterilize bottles, binkies, and teething toys regularly. Use antibiotics only if absolutely necessary.

-Photos used with permission from a sweet mom in my practice.