Oral Diseases

There is a range of oral diseases that pose a major public health threat worldwide. If left untreated, oral diseases negatively impact the mouth as well as the rest of the body. Oral diseases can affect every aspect of life, including personal relationships, self-confidence, as well as school and work attendance and performance.

What causes oral diseases?

Although oral diseases begin in the mouth, they cannot be prevented by focusing on the mouth alone. The circumstances in which people live and their level of access to certain resources and opportunities also plays a role in oral disease development. These deeper roots underlying the disease process must be addressed to ensure a comprehensive and effective treatment approach.

Tooth decay

Untreated tooth decay (dental caries) is the most common chronic disease worldwide and a major global health problem. Tooth decay is widespread due to high sugar consumption, a lack of effective preventive strategies, and limited access to appropriate oral healthcare in many parts of the world.

Tooth decay is caused by the interaction between the tooth surface, biofilm bacteria in the mouth and the presence of sugars from food. Biofilm bacteria metabolize sugars and produce acids, which break down tooth enamel over time.

You may have tooth decay if you experience:

  • food trapped frequently between your teeth;
  • discomfort or pain in or around your mouth;
  • difficulty in biting down on certain foods;
  • sensitivity to hot, cold or even sweet foods;
  • bad breath;
  • white, then dark, spots on your teeth.

Gum disease

Periodontal (gum) disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. It begins as gingivitis (chronic inflammation of the gums caused by dental plaque), which can be easily treated if action is taken early. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more serious infection that destroys tooth-supporting tissues and bone. Unlike gingivitis, the damage caused by periodontal disease is irreversible and permanent. It can have a huge impact on well-being and quality of life. Periodontal disease can lead to serious consequences such as problems with chewing, speaking and tooth loss.

You may have gum disease if you experience:

  • red and swollen gums that bleed easily, especially when you brush or clean between your teeth;
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth;
  • constant bad breath;
  • pus between your teeth and gums;
  • teeth that are loose or moving away from one another;
  • changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite;
  • changes in the way your partial dentures fit.

Oral cancer

Oral cancers begin in the mouth. Oral cancer is among the 10 most common cancers. It may significantly affect any part of the mouth including: lips, gums, tongue, throat, inner lining of the cheeks, roof of the mouth and floor of the mouth. Oral cancer can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. Tobacco and alcohol use are two major causes of oral cancer worldwide.

Potential signs of oral cancer:

  • swellings/thickenings, lumps/bumps, rough spots/crusts or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth;
  • swellings/thickenings, lumps/bumps, rough spots/crusts or eroded areas on the lips, gums, or other areas inside the mouth;
  • development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth;
  • unexplained bleeding in the mouth;
  • unexplained numbness or pain/tenderness in the face, mouth, or neck;
  • dramatic weight loss;
  • persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within two weeks;
  • a soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat;
  • difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue;
  • hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice;
  • ear pain;
  • change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together.

Share it