Common Disorders of the Mouth: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Mouth disorders can range from mild to severe, and can be caused by a variety of factors. Candidiasis, also known as dental stomatitis, is caused by fungi and can affect other parts of the body. Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease caused by bacteria entering the cracks in the gums, resulting in inflammation and bleeding when brushing teeth. According to the American Academy of Periodontics, between 50 and 90 percent of adults in the U.

S. have some form of gum infection. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease, which causes pockets of pus to form below the gum line, leading to further inflammation and loss of bone tissue. This is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is another common disorder that mainly affects children under 10 years old during summer and fall months. Symptoms include a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, fever-like feeling and blisters on the back of the mouth. This infection usually lasts three to five days and is known as herpangina. Cold sores are also a common problem in the upper mouth area, caused by a virus that is usually transmitted through kissing or sharing utensils.

Over-the-counter creams and ointments can help ease discomfort and speed up healing. Canker sores, TMJ, bad breath, and mouth cancer are other common disorders that can affect the mouth. Candida yeast can cause thrush, which is more common in older adults or infants with weakened immune systems or who are taking antibiotics or certain medications such as inhaled corticosteroids. Canker sores are small, painful blisters inside the mouth that can be triggered by hypersensitivity, infections, hormones, stress or lack of certain vitamins.

Leukoplakia is a reaction to an irritant such as rough teeth or ill-fitting dentures that appears as white spots or plaques in the mouth and can be precancerous. Lichen planus is a rare rash that appears as lace-like white spots or bright red bumps on the inside of the cheeks or tongue and is usually painless but persistent stains or other changes in the mouth should be evaluated by a dentist. Oral cancer is another serious disorder that can be caused by smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco, excessive drinking, too much sun exposure or having a family history of cancer. It has also been linked to human papillomavirus (HPV). Symptoms include a sore in the mouth that won't go away and unexplained numbness in the face, mouth or neck.

Oral cancer that is detected early is treatable and curable.

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