Some Common Oral Disorders

Oral health is an indicator of general health.  Having a healthy mouth and teeth is extremely important for the overall health and well being. The word oral refers to the mouth and it not only includes teeth, gums and supporting tissue but it also includes the hard and soft palate, the mucosal lining of the mouth and throat, the tongue, the lips, the salivary glands, the chewing muscles and the jaw. There are various oral disorders whose prevalence are significantly increasing and some of the disorders are as follows:

1. Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease which involves progressive and episodic loss of periodontal attachment of apparatus. It is a disease that affects the gums and dental support structure and is caused by certain bacterias that are found in the bacterial plaque. There are several stages of the disease and it all begins with an infection in the gums that later moves into the bones and ligaments that support the teeth. It is very important to get it treated at a right time because if it is left untreated, it can cause serious damage to the gum and bones and this damage can reach to such an extent that the teeth can fall out or need to be removed. The major cause of periodontal disease is an interaction between the bacterias found in plaque and the body’s response to those bacterias. Plaque is the sticky film that collects on the teeth every day and if it is not removed every day, it forms tartar that leads to the formation of more plaques. Plaques create an inflammation and cause damage to the gums tissues and contribute to the development of periodontal disease.

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2. Oral Cancers

Oral cancers are one of the most common cancers in the world and in the United States, thousands of people are living with it. Oral cancers are also known as mouth cancers and these cancers can develop on the tongue, the tissue lining the mouth and gum, the floor of the mouth, the base of the tongue and the oropharynx. At an initial stage, it is characterized as a persistent red or white patch, a non-healing ulcer, prolonged hoarseness and progressive inflammation. But as this cancer progresses, it can cause paresthesia of the tongue or lips, air obstruction, persistent pain and chronic serous otitis media. Numerous studies suggest that the tobacco used and consumption of alcohol are the most significant risk factors that contribute to the development of oral cancer. Tobacco smoking carries six times more risk of developing oral cancer as compared to not smoking. Similarly, people who consume excessive alcohol are at increased risk of developing oral cancer as compared to those who don’t consume alcohol.  The combination of smoking and drinking can be hazardous for the health.

3. Xerostomia

Xerostomia is also known as dry mouth and it is a disease which is associated with dysfunction of salivary glands. Xerostomia is characterized by a dry and sticky feeling in the mouth and throat and an increased thirst. It also causes difficulties in swallowing, speaking, chewing and wearing dentures. It is a feeling that there is not enough saliva in the mouth There are various causes of dysfunction of salivary glands such as some autoimmune disorders leads to the production of autoantibodies that are directed towards the endocrine glands and results in the destruction of the salivary gland tissue. Some other factors that can affect saliva production include dehydration due to factors such as fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea.

4. Canker sores

Canker sores are also known as aphthous ulcers and these ulcers are harmless but are very painful. It occurs on the areas such as soft inner surfaces of the mouth, the inner surface of the lips, and on portions of the tongue. Usually, these ulcers are characterized by the red ulcers but sometimes they have a white coating over them. Canker sores are of three types:

  • Minor Aphthae – These are small ulcers that heal within 7 to 10 days and these ulcers usually appear on the underside of the tongue, a floor of the mouth or inside lining of the cheek.
  • Major Aphthae – These are more severe types of ulcers as compared to the minor aphthae and these ulcers are larger in diameter. They occur in a large number and are often found on the lips, soft palate and throat.
  • Herpetiform – These are the least common type of ulcers that can cause scarring and can last for around 7 to 30 days.

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.