Our mouths host millions of bacterial cells; some are beneficial, while others can be very harmful. Bacteria is only one cause of the many oral diseases that can affect the different areas of our mouths.
Some of the most common oral diseases include, but are not limited to:
1. Periodontal Disease
If you’ve been diagnosed with periodontal disease, you need to take better care of your gums. Also known as gum disease, this common dental problem is usually the result of neglecting to floss your teeth on a regular basis. The buildup of plaque-causing bacteria eventually leads to the development of gingivitis or periodontitis, the first stages of periodontal disease.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
- Gums that bleed after brushing, flossing, or eating crunchy foods
- Tender, painful, swollen gums
- Enlarging space between teeth
- Frequent mouth sores
The good news is, periodontal disease can be treated through over the course of a few dental appointments. Deep teeth cleanings will be required to remove the plaque and tartar buildup in and around your gums. This procedure can be painful to some people, but is usually spread out over a number of sessions.
2. Tooth Decay & Cavities
One of the most common dental diseases is tooth decay, which affects millions of children and adults worldwide. The development of cavities is the result of tooth decay caused by a failure to brush your teeth after consuming sizeable quantities of sugary and acidic foods and beverages. These substances perforate the enamel, which later allows the proliferation of cavity-causing bacteria.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay
- Sharp, localized pain around affected teeth, even if you are not chewing
- Grey or brown colored spots appearing on the surface of your teeth
- Swollen gums surrounding decaying teeth
- Difficulty chewing food due to sensitivity
Cavities are treated by scraping or drilling away the bacteria from the surface of the tooth, which is later filled by composite or amalgam material to match the appearance of your natural tooth. Cavities that advance beyond the surface of your tooth to the interior pulp will require a root canal procedure performed by an endodontist. Alternatively, advanced-stage cavities can be cured through a tooth extraction.
3. Oral Cancer
Oral cancer can target multiple regions of the mouth, including your throat, tongue, cheeks, and lips. Oral cancer can go undetected for a while, especially if you fail to visit the dentist every six months as recommended. This disease usually manifests as a swollen or tingling sore with a red or white surface which can be caused by excess tobacco consumption or Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
Symptoms of Oral Cancer
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Red or white ulcers that won’t disappear
- Bleeding in affected areas
Your regular dental check-up should include an oral cancer screening, which involves probing every region of the mouth to detect early stages of the disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with oral cancer, there are many treatment options available such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
4. Cleft Lip or Palate
A cleft lip or palate occurs in the fetal stage when tissues in the upper lip do not form completely at 6-9 weeks gestation. Cleft lip is not actually a disease; rather, it is a developmental issue. Depending on the severity of the cleft, this condition can either be cosmetic, or it can cause issues with eating, swallowing, and speaking.
Causes of Cleft Lip or Palate
- Smoking or alcohol consumption during pregnancy
- Pre-existing diabetes in carrying mothers
- Certain epileptic medicines used before or during pregnancy
If your child is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate, surgery must be performed within 18 months of birth to prevent serious health issues in the future. As your child ages, they can also undergo speech therapy if their cleft palate is more serious.
5. Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is one of many types of oral infections caused by the growth of harmful Candida fungus in the mouth. This condition namely affects infants and people with reduced immunity. Oral thrush is easily noticed, as it results in milky white lesions spread out over the tongue and cheeks. If left untreated for too long, Candida fungus can target the tonsils and throat, leading to difficulty swallowing.
Symptoms of Oral Thrush
- Spotted white sores or lesions covering mouth lining
- Cracks and irritation on the corners of the mouth
- Burning sensation when attempting to swallow
- Reduction in appetite and dulled sense of taste
Oral thrush can be prevented by sticking to a oral hygiene routine that includes daily brushing and flossing. Once thrush is diagnosed in the mouth, your dentist may prescribe certain antibiotics to kill the fungal spores before the infection progresses.
More commonly known as “bad breath”, halitosis is a chronic condition that can be caused by a number of risk factors, including smoking, poor dental hygiene, and existing respiratory tract infections. Halitosis can also be a side effect of gingivitis or periodontitis, which are caused by plaque and tartar buildup around the teeth and gums. This condition can lead to anxiety in social settings, as the mouth odor can be very noticeable in close face-to-face encounters.
Symptoms of Halitosis
- Foul-smelling breath
- Dry or cracked mouth
- Thick, mucousy saliva
- Constant bitter or metallic taste
Halitosis can be treated by simply adopting a strict oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist on a regular basis. Flossing and brushing should be accompanied by the use of antiseptic mouthwash to get rid of bacteria after eating and before bedtime. In addition, staying hydrated with fluoridated water throughout the day can alleviate the symptoms of bad breath.
Although diabetes is not a dental disease in and of itself, many studies suggest a relationship between diabetes and oral health problems. Surprisingly, advanced gum disease leads to issues with blood sugar control, which can cause Type 2 diabetes in some people. Vice versa, people who suffer from diabetes may have a weakened immunity, making them susceptible to bacterial infections in the mouth.
Dental-Related Symptoms of Diabetes
- Blood sugar dysregulation caused by periodontal disease
- Halitosis due to ketosis (production of ketones for fuel when sugar is deficient)
- Dry mouth
Regular visits to your dentist will ensure none of the above dental diseases are left undetected. If you are experiencing the latter stages of any one of these oral health problems, your dentist will be able to provide you with an effective treatment plan as early as your next appointment.
We want to help you achieve a radiant smile. Call us at (562) 988-0148, and let us show you how!