The oral cavity is home to a number of microorganisms that play a role in numerous pathological conditions. Diseases of the mouth are exceedingly common, especially in the developing world. Poor dental health and negligence can be major risk factors for some of the most ominous diseases of the oral cavity. That’s why good brushing technique, regular flossing and the best mouthwash in hand can go a long way in protecting us from some life-threatening conditions.
Diseases of the oral cavity not only result in discomforting symptoms but they can also be disfiguring. In fact, sometimes the earliest sign might be a cosmetic complaint.
There is an extensive list of conditions that can affect the oral cavity, teeth and gums but some of the more common ones are:
#1: Oral Ulcers
There’s more than one type of ulcer that can form in your mouth. The most common type is the canker sore or aphthous ulcer. Although the true etiology of these ulcers hasn’t been discovered yet, there is substantial evidence that it might have something to do with fluctuating hormone levels.
Aphthous ulcers are common in women around the time of their period or in people who are stressed. Although painful, these ulcers are benign and resolve spontaneously.
A more ominous type of ulcer is the one associated with drug reactions or Crohn’s disease. These ulcers are usually large and persistent.
Yet another variant of oral ulcers is the so-called Vincent’s angina. Vincent’s angina is characterized by painful, deep, sloughing ulcers that usually form on the gums. Poor oral hygiene and a lack of proper nutrition are important predisposing factors. A potent oral mouthwash is usually recommended along with a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics to treat this ulcer.
#2: Oral Candidiasis or Thrush
The fungus candida Albicans can cause a particular infection in the mouth in people who are immunocompromised in some way (this could include the elderly, diabetics, patients receiving chemotherapy and even pregnant women).
Candidiasis in the mouth presents as white patches on the tongue and gum line. Painful swallowing and a spread of infection can ensue if not treated promptly with antifungals
#3: Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a direct result of a decrease in the production of saliva from the salivary glands. Medically known as xerostomia, a dry mouth can be much more stressful than it seems.
People with a dry mouth need constant hydration and fluid as well as mouth spray or mouthwash for fresh breath to avoid bad breath.
Conditions that can cause dry mouth are typically mediated through an autoimmune process. Sjogren syndrome is a classic example.
#4: Dental Caries
One of the most common diseases in the mouth is none other than dental caries. Children are more affected by caries because of their increased intake of sweets and sugar, coupled with poor brushing habits.
Caries or tooth decay can be troublesome because the enamel and the tooth itself dissolve over time if prompt treatment is not done. Sometimes, the decay can be irreparable and need a dental implant.
Other dire consequences of tooth decay and caries include; pain and the spread of infection to other parts of the body.
To prevent dental caries from ever happening, good oral health from a very young age should be actively encouraged.
#5: Periodontal infections
Gum infections can actually be pretty painful and lead to a number of problems that can affect your quality of life. Swollen gums can get in the way of speech and feeding while bleeding from the gums can result in anemia in the long run. Periodontal or gum disease can also cause bad breath.
There are many conditions that directly affect the health of your gums. Infections from bacteria, bleeding disorders and even some nutritional deficiencies (such as Vitamin C deficiency) can affect the gums.
Sometimes, the gum infection can be severe enough to spread and cause problems in distant areas of the body. Bacteria can spread through the bloodstream and cause infection in organs such as the heart and the brain.
Once again, poor oral hygiene along with cigarette smoking are the top causes of gum disease.
#6: Oral Cancer
Cancer can affect the lips, gums, tongue, dental line, palate and floor of the mouth. Oral cancer has sobering statistics worldwide and has a solid association with tobacco smoking, nutritional deficiencies, poor oral health and other environmental factors.
If caught early, oral cancers can be completely cured with intensive treatment.
#7: Other conditions
Leukoplakia and erythroplakia are two notable pre-cancerous lesions in the mouth that can progress into a full-blown cancer of the oral cavity. Leukoplakia is typically characterized by a wrinkled white patch on the side of the tongue while erythroplakia is a red patch inside; the latter has a higher incidence of progression into cancer.
Other conditions that can affect the oral cavity due to subpar oral hygiene include submucous fibrosis, ranulas, and specific viral and bacterial infections.
How Can You Keep Yourself Protected from Diseases of the Mouth?
Sometimes, there is no way to stop a disease from happening such as an autoimmune condition. But when it comes to diseases of the oral cavity, prevention plays a significant role in decreasing your risk of the condition
Optimal oral health and hygiene are the most important preventive measures you can take to halt disease progression. Good care of the teeth and gums through brushing, flossing, mouthwash and diet can decrease your likelihood of getting a number of infections.
Along with oral hygiene, it is also important to refrain from tobacco use because tobacco has been implicated in a number of diseases of the oral cavity, especially in oral cancer.
With proper care and regular visits to the dentist, you can ensure that you are well protected from these ominous diseases of the mouth.