Thrush mouth ie a mouth yeast infection, is when Candida albicans invades the mouth.
There are over 101 strains1 of C albicans that have been implicated in oral yeast infection and some of these strains are more resistant to certain antifungals than others.
Whilst not being a cure-all, probiotics do seem to help some people with thrush mouth.
The signs of oral thrush are creamy white curds or cottage cheese patches inside the mouth. It shows as a definite coating. The tongue and inner cheek are the most common spots but it can spread to your gums, tonsils and the roof of your mouth. See Thrush Mouth Symptoms for a full list of signs.
For most people a yeast infection in the mouth is not a serious problem but for the elderly and those with weakened immune symptoms it can be more serious.
Thrush is one of those things that look worse than it is!
If you do have it, then check out oral thrush treatment for a few probiotic answers as well as tips especially for denture wearers.
Normally, your mouth contains a complex mix of bacteria and fungi, and as there is fierce competition for elbow room, all the microflora are held in check. If, for some reason, the bacteria numbers are decreased then some of the fungi try to take over. Candida albicans is an opportunist fungi that will always exploit a decrease in other inhabitants of the mouth. This is why it is so important to NOT USE any antibacterial form of control because as you wipe out the bacteria, the fungi will have even MORE opportunity to spread. Remember that bacteria and fungi are two completely different types of microbe.
A number of factors are know to sometimes be the cause of oral thrush - the main ones are injury to the mouth, HIV, being elderly and taking antibiotics.
Oral yeast infections are simply an overgrowth of the yeast cells that we all have in our mouth, on our skin and in our digestive tract. Candida albicans is a normal part of our body microflora. So in that sense an oral yeast infection is not contagious - we already have our own supply.
However, if you are in intimate contact with someone who does have a mouth yeast infection you will likely gather up a whole lot more of this fungi and it just might be that the sudden increase is enough to "give you thrush".
See Is Oral Thrush Contagious for more detail.
Wearing dentures is one of the leading causes of thrush mouth. Up to 67% of people that wear false teeth will develop denture stomatitis at some point.
Having said that, don't panic and think that it is inevitable. I know many people who wear false teeth and most say that have never developed an infection in the mouth. Not wearing them 24 hours a day will certainly reduce the chances of this happening. Leave them out some nights.
1. Li JY, Sun HY, Zhang QQ. Antifungal susceptibility test of genotypes of Candida albicans from patients with atrophic or erosive oral lichen planus. Shanghai Kou Qiang Yi Xue. 2011 Jun;20(3):300-3.