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oral candidiasis

fungus infection characterized by raised white patches on the tongue that resemble milk curds. When gently scraped off, these patches reveal inflamed tissue that tends to bleed easily. Beginning on the tongue, the creamy white spots can spread to the gums, palate, tonsils, throat, and elsewhere. The causative organism, the yeastlike fungus Candida albicans, is ubiquitous and needs only favourable conditions in the mouth and a weakened host to flourish. Although most common among infants, thrush sometimes occurs in the elderly, immune-suppressed patients, or others in whom the normal balance of microorganisms in the mouth has been upset. The spread of the infection in the oral cavity usually produces only slight symptoms of fever and gastrointestinal irritation, however. Thrush is generally cured by the antibiotics nystatin or clotrimazole taken as mouthwashes.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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