Common Oral Problems & Disorders

The build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth can cause a wide array of problems, some easily treated, and some that are more serious. Here is a list of common oral problems and disorders:

[toggle title=”Dental caries or cavities:”]
Dental caries, or cavities, as they are commonly called, are defined as small holes in the tooth enamel that damage the structure of the tooth.

Dental caries are caused by tooth decay, which is the result of plaque and tartar build-up on the teeth due to improper home care and infrequent professional cleanings. Dental caries begin as a small white spot on the tooth enamel. If dental caries are found and treated in time, the decay process can be reversed, and the formation of an actual cavity can be prevented. Without proper treatment at an early phase, however, these small white spots develop into actual caries or holes in the tooth enamel.
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[toggle title=”Gingivitis:”]
Gingivitis is defined as the infection or inflammation of the gums that surround and protect the teeth, and is considered a bacterial infection. Gingivitis often occurs when plaque accumulates between the teeth, although there are other factors that can contribute to the onset of gingivitis, such as hormonal changes, or use of certain medications that compromise the immune system, inhibiting the body’s ability to fight a bacterial infection. Gingivitis can result in swollen and bleeding gums, which are often red in color, and can be painful to the touch. Likewise, once gingivitis has developed, there may also be a foul odor to the breath.

The basic treatment for gingivitis is regular brushing and flossing, along with regular professional cleanings of the teeth and gums, and, in some cases, prescribed use of special toothpastes or rinses to prevent further accumulation of plaque.

Unfortunately, untreated gingivitis can rapidly progress into periodontal disease so be sure not to ignore any signs and symptoms. If you let gingivitis progress, you may eventually need to take antibiotic medication to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and keep it at a manageable level so your immune system can fight off further infection. Ideally, however, the disease should not progress to this point, as it is completely preventable with proper care and early diagnosis.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Periodontitis (periodontal disease):”]
Periodontitis or periodontal disease, also known as pyorrhea or gum disease, can be defined as the inflammation, damage, and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth. Periodontitis happens when gingivitis is untreated or treated after it has already progressed to a dangerous stage. After the onset of periodontitis, receding gums are often seen, as the plaque present in the mouth moves below the gum line. As the body tries to fight the plaque, which it sees as a bacterial infection, it starts to attack the very bones and tissues that connect the teeth to the gums and keep your mouth intact. In addition to poor oral hygiene, factors like smoking or chewing tobacco, experiencing extreme stress, hormonal changes, the use of certain medications, and grinding teeth can all contribute to the development of periodontal disease. Finally, while antibiotics are often used to reduce the level of bacteria in the mouth, unfortunately, periodontitis often results in loss of teeth.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Halitosis (bad breath or oral malodor):”]
Bad breath or halitosis can be caused by poor oral hygiene. However, the true cause of halitosis in patients is often misdiagnosed as halitosis can be caused by a numerous list of factors in addition to poor oral hygiene, such as eating certain foods, smoking or chewing tobacco, consuming alcohol, dry mouth, and sinusitis, to name a few.

Often times, bad breath vanishes once food or drink has been consumed, teeth have been brushed and flossed, and the mouth has been rinsed. However, if bad breath persists after the above activities have been performed, it is a sign of a serious problem.

Bad breath is still somewhat of a mystery amongst medical and dental professionals, possibly because it can be the result of so many different conditions. At any rate, the recommendations to remedy bad breath are rather simple, and are as follows: eat rough foods to help clean the back of the tongue, Practice good oral hygiene, clean the surface of the tongue two times a day with a tongue scraper to remove bacteria, chew gum to increase the production of saliva and reduce dry mouth, gargle with a mouthwash or rinse designed to eliminate bad breath, and drink the recommended 8 glasses of water each day to stay hydrated.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Oral ulcers:”]
An ulcer inside the mouth, or oral ulcer, is defined as an opening in the mucous membrane within the mouth, surrounding the mouths, or on the lips. An oral ulcer can develop for a variety of reasons, such as a viral infection, trauma to the mouth or surrounding area, certain medical conditions, a vitamin deficiency, gluten intolerance, consumption of extremely spicy and/or acidic foods, or the use of prescription medications. In some cases, oral ulcers may also be the result of oral cancer; however, for the most part, oral ulcers are harmless, and tend to heal on their own in just a few days.The first most common type of oral ulcers are canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, which are sometimes thought to occur when the body recognizes a foreign chemical and reacts accordingly to dispose of the chemical and protect the body.

The second most common type of oral ulcers is cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus. It is important to note exposure to the herpes simplex virus is very common, even thought only a small percentage of those exposed experience an oral outbreak in the form of a cold sore.

Depending on the underlying cause of the ulcer, the symptoms that display themselves prior to the ulcer forming will vary. Many times the ulcer starts with a burning sensation near the site of the developing ulcer. Eventually, a bump or spot will form on the affected area, until finally, and open sore, or ulcer, develops.

Oral ulcers may take the shape of an oval, and be white or yellow in color, often with an inflamed red border. In some cases, a white ring around the ulcer is visible. In addition, a swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck area may occur.

If the ulcer remains for longer than two weeks, a doctor or dentist should be contacted immediately, as the ulcer may be a sign or oral cancer. This goes for any inflammation of the mouth. Likewise, repeated instances of oral ulcers may indicate an immunodeficiency. Frequent incidences of oral ulcers should be investigated by a medical professional.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Oral abscesses or dental abscesses:”]
An oral abscess is defined as an area of pus that develops because of an underlying bacterial infection. This occurs when the human immune system responds to a bacterial infection, carrying white blood cells to what it thinks is the infected area to eliminate the offending bacteria. The accumulating white blood cells then mix with dead cells and tissues creating pus, and, when the pus is unable to drain, an oral abscess is formed.When abscesses develop inside the mouth, they often form in the soft tissue of the gums, near the bottoms of the teeth, or in the areas around the teeth Abscesses can develop for various reasons, but the most common causes are food or other types of debris that become stuck in the gums, bacteria that somehow travels deep into the dental pulp, or from a periodontal pocket.

The most prominent symptom of an abscess is a toothache and the onset of severe and throbbing pain that does not go away. You may also notice that the infected tooth is more sensitive to heat and sometimes to pressure. As the abscess progresses, you may experience a fever, pain and pressure in your sinuses, and tender or swollen lymph nodes in the neck and lower jaw areas, and, if the abscess ruptures, the fluid will drain into your mouth.

An abscess that goes untreated can be very serious. If the abscess does not drain, the infection can spread to other areas of the body. This is why it is important to see your dentist if you experience any of the symptoms associated with an abscess. Even if the abscess drains, it does not mean the infection is gone and you must still visit your dentist for a complete evaluation.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (trench mouth):”]
Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, commonly known as trench mouth, is a severe and very painful stage of gingivitis that often results in bleeding gums, infections, oral ulcers, and the loss of teeth. While incidences of trench mouth are rare today, they do occur, mostly to people who are living in substandard conditions or who Practice poor nutrition, due to poverty, lack of access to healthy food, or lack of education.Trench mouth happens when the harmful types of bacteria in your mouth multiply to a level that your body cannot control. Once the harmful bacteria starts to take over your mouth, your gums become infected, your teeth start to decay, and oral ulcers may form, causing serious pain, bleeding of the gums, and an unpleasant odor to the breath and taste in the mouth.

Trench mouth is usually treated with a professional tooth cleaning, antibiotics, and regular brushing and flossing. These treatments will normally suffice in clearing up trench mouth; however, in some cases where trench mouth goes untreated for extended periods of time, a more persistent infection that spreads to other areas of the body can result, along with the onset of other related conditions that further complicate matters.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Xerostomia (dry mouth):”]
Xerostomia, commonly known as dry mouth, is the condition that results from a lack of saliva flowing inside the mouth. Vital to oral health, saliva performs many critical functions such as keeping soft tissues inside the mouth sufficiently lubricated, acting as a buffer between the tooth enamel and the acids that are created by the bacteria inside the mouth, and helping to make possible digestion, the swallowing of food, and speech.Dry mouth is widespread among the elderly population in the United States, partially due to the prevalence of prescription drug use that presents dry mouth as a common side effect.

While seemingly innocuous at first glance, a persistent case of dry mouth can lead to problems eating food, drinking liquids, and speaking. It can also lead to severe tooth decay and gum disease. Seek the advice of your dentist or medical professional if you experience a prolonged or frequent case of dry mouth.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Orofacial Pain and Related Disorders:”]
Orofacial pain is one of the most common reasons that people visit the dentist. There are countless factors than can causeorofacial pain, and for this reason, the underlying cause oforofacial pain is often misdiagnosed.Often the result of dental caries or periodontal disease, orofacialpain may also result from an assortment of psychological,neurological, and vascular disorders. Likewise, orofacial painmay occur as a symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder(TMJD), commonly referred to as TMJ, a chronic pain occurringin the joint that connects the lower jaw and skull, also known as the temporomandibular joint, hence the name of the disease.

The underlying causes and manifestation of orofacial pain and its related disorders are a broad area of medical study that still requires a considerable amount of research in order to be fully understood. However, it has been established that chronic pain of any sort can take on a life of its own, severely limiting patients’ social and work-related activities and causing considerable emotional and psychological distress in patients’ lives, in addition to chronic physical pain already experienced.

Likewise, it has been noted by medical researchers that the presence and experience of chronic pain can also result in serious, long-term damage to the nervous system. Specifically, chronic pain can change the way the nervous system operates and can potentially lead to the development of a variety of disorders, while lowering resistance to other types of disease.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Craniofacial Birth Defects or Syndromes:”]
It should be noted that craniofacial malformations are one of the most common birth defects seen in children, and a customary reason people are forced to seek acute and ongoing dental care.

Craniofacial birth defects and the comorbid developmental disorders are complex problems, and while not yet fully understood, they are often thought to be part of a large group of hereditary diseases and syndromes. Of these defects, cleft lip and cleft palate defects are among the most common.[/toggle]