Oral diseases – Causes, Symptoms, Risk factors, and Prevention

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Oral diseases

Oral diseases usually occur due to tooth decay that has made its way into a tooth’s pulp chamber. Once this happens, the pulp and internal nerves are exposed to oral germs, food particles and other detritus.

Oral diseases typically affect the mouth, lips, inside of cheeks, gums, the base of the mouth and tongue.

Most oral diseases often cause only minor irritation and disappear within a week. In rare cases, they may occasionally point to more serious reasons, such as mouth cancer or viral infections like herpes simplex.

Common oral diseases

Common oral diseases are Tooth decay(Dental caries), Gum diseases, Canker sore, Oral cancer and infections.

a) Tooth Decay: It is a blackish discolouration or tiny hole in the tooth which is caused by bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks and not cleaning your teeth well.

If cavities aren’t treated, they get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth. They may result in tooth loss, infection, and excruciating dental pain.

b) Gum disease: Gum diseases are infections and inflammation of the gums and bones that surround and support the teeth. Poor oral hygiene, diabetes and a weakened immune system are the main contributors to it.

If left untreated, due to bone and gum support loss, teeth become loose and tooth loss occurs eventually.

c) Canker sore: The lining of your mouth can develop small, shallow ulcers called canker sores (aphthous ulcers). A canker sore initially appears as a red-bordered, white or yellowish mouth sore.

Canker sores can be seen on your tongue, gums, roof of your mouth, inside of your lip or under your tongue.

They can be painful and often make eating and talking uncomfortable. It is caused mainly due to stress, minor injury to the mouth and intake of acidic foods. Usually, canker sores are self-limiting and can go away within two weeks.

d) Oral cancer: Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in the mouth that does not go away. Cancers of the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, hard and soft palates, and throat are all examples of oral cancer.

Risk factors for oral cancer

1. Smoking and use of smokeless tobacco

2. Excessive consumption of alcohol

3. Excessive sun exposure – Can cause Lip cancers

4. Human Papillomavirus(HPV) – HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). Certain HPV strains are etiologic risk factors for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma(OSCC)

5. Other common habit-related oral issues are cheek bite, tongue bite, burning mouth syndrome

Signs and symptoms of Oral diseases :

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of Oral diseases.


Oral ulcers occur due to many factors. It can be caused by accidental cheek bites, canker sores, due to infections and various medical diseases. Ulcers/Sores which do not heal and stay for a longer time are early symptoms of oral cancer.

Bleeding or swollen gums

Bleeding gums are most commonly caused by a buildup of plaque/tooth deposits. Gums will be red, swollen and irritated also bleed when brushing.

It can be an early sign of gum disease, a warning sign for diabetes or any other underlying cause.

Bad breath

A common issue that can lead to serious psychological anguish is bad breath. It can be a sign of poor oral hygiene and dry mouth.

Pain or toothache

A toothache or tooth pain results from irritation of the nerve in the tooth’s root or the area around it, which eventually causes oral diseases. Dental pain is most frequently caused by tooth decay, injury or tooth loss.

Receding gums

When the gum line separates from the teeth, exposing the underlying roots, gum recession occurs. It is caused by hereditary smoking and vigorous brushing. It can be a sign of gum or periodontal disease.

Common Risk Factors of oral disease

Tobacco and alcohol use

The use of tobacco and alcohol raises the risk of oral and throat cancer and gum diseases. In comparison to people who never smoke or drink frequently, those who are heavy smokers and drinkers are 30 times more likely to develop oral cancer.


Periodontal disease increases with an increase in age, most commonly. However, most people do not start to exhibit symptoms until they are in their 30s or 40s.

Ultraviolet (UV) light

Overexposure can increase the risk of Lip cancers.

Prevention of Oral diseases

  • Promoting a well-balanced diet which is low in free sugars and high in fruit and vegetables, and favouring water as the main drink.
  • Avoid using all forms of tobacco, including chewing of areca nuts
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Maintain Proper oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing every day
  • Visit your dentist regularly


You can take precautions to lessen the likelihood of oral diseases. Avoid the intake of spicy or acidic food, such as chips or citrus fruits like lemon, grapefruit, orange or pineapple and have lots of fruits, vegetables and grains.

To decrease unintentional cheek and tongue bites, try to avoid talking while you are chewing your food. Flossing daily and brushing right after meals will help you maintain good oral hygiene.


What are common oral diseases?

Canker sores, tooth decay and gum diseases are common oral diseases.

Does using mouthwash help?

Using Oral Mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing. However, rinsing can help in preventing cavities or gum disease.

Is oral disease curable?

Yes, it is curable. Oral diseases are generally curable. In some cases, it requires solid medical treatment to treat the condition.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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