The oral cavity interacts with a vast range of microorganisms as it is directly in contact with the outer environment. Some of this microorganism can do serious harm to our body. Bacteria and viruses usually cause an oral infection. They can affect the teeth, gums, palate (the roof of the mouth), tongue, lips, and inside of the cheeks.

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Some of the common oral infections are oral thrush, dental caries, canker sore, herpangina, gingivitis, etc. Oral infections can also lead to tooth decay, which is the second most common infectious condition after the common cold.

Also, the oral cavity is directly connected to two major systems of our body which is the respiratory and digestive system. The microorganism can enter from the oral cavity to these systems and can cause serious medical problems.

Let’s read in read about some common oral infections, cause, and available treatment options.

1. Dental caries

Dental caries is one of the most common oral infections. Dental caries is the result of tooth decay which is caused by the action of acids on the enamel surface. The acid is produced when sugars in foods or drinks react with bacteria from the dental plaque present on the tooth surface.

These cavities once formed then cannot be reversed. the damage done to the tooth by Caries is permanent. Untreated cavities can cause a toothache, infection and eventually tooth loss.

Treatments include fluoride, cavity filling, and crowns. In Severe condition, you may need a root canal or extraction of the tooth.

2. Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the early gum disease. Gingivitis means inflammation of the gingiva (gums). It commonly occurs because of toxins produced by a film of bacteria (plaque) that accumulates on the teeth. (1)

Gingivitis can be reversed by taking good care of teeth. Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis which is a serious problem as it destroys the supporting structures of the tooth and leads to tooth loss.

Symptoms of gingivitis are red, swollen, bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, and yellow patches near the gum line. Treatment involves a professional cleaning called scaling and oral rinses.

3. Periodontal disease

When gingivitis is left untreated, the infection spreads beyond gum line and destroys alveolar bone and periodontal ligament (fibers holing teeth to the bone). This makes the tooth mobile as the supporting structures are destroyed and can lead to tooth loss.

In periodontal disease, the gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces called as gum pockets that become infected due to continuous accumulation of food and plaque into these pockets.

Treatment includes cleaning the pockets around teeth by a professional dentist to prevent damage to surrounding bone, and advanced cases may require surgery. (2)

4. Hand, foot, and mouth disease

It is a contagious viral infection common in toddlers and young children. Hand, foot, and mouth disease are usually caused by the virus “Coxsackie A16”, this disease is characterized by a lesion in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. (3)

Hand, foot, and, mouth disease is usually a mild illness causing only a few days of fever and relatively mild signs and symptoms.

5. Herpangia

Herpangina is also called mouth blisters. It is a painful mouth infection related to hand foot and mouth disease. Herpangia is most often seen in children aged three to ten, but it can occur at any age. (4)

Initial Symptoms are sudden fever with a sore throat, headache, loss of appetite, and often neck pain after few days tiny blisters at the back of the mouth are found which form large ulcers when they rupture. Fever only stays for three to four days.

6. Oral thrush

Thrush is a fungal disease caused by “Candida albicans.” It’s most common with babies, people with immune deficiency and those who use steroid sprays for asthma. White blotches on the tongue or inner cheeks or palate appear in thrush.

Oral thrush in adults is not contagious, but when newborns come in contact with the fungus during birth if the mother has a vaginal fungal infection, it spreads from the mother to the newborn baby.

An anti-fungal medication, chemotherapy or radiation can help. Thrush is commonly seen in people who have HIV. (5)

7.  Canker sores

There are about 10 million cases of cancer sours in India alone every year. Cancer sores sours are small, superficial ulcers that appear on gums and other oral tissues.

The Exact cause of cancer sours is unknown, but they are thought to be caused by stress, injured tissue, hormones, immune problems, food hypersensitivities and other dental problems. Most sours heal one their own in two to three weeks.

8. Oral herpes

Oral herpes is a viral infection caused by a specific type of herpes simplex virus (HSV). The infection causes painful sores on the lips, gums, tongue, the roof of the mouth, and inside cheeks.

It also causes symptoms like fever and muscle aches. Oral herpes causes tiny, fluid-filled lesions called cold sores or fever blisters, which can recur.

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These sours are mostly found children between the age group 1-3 years old but can affect people of any age group. This infection is highly contagious, and can quickly spread by touching infected saliva, mucous membranes, or skin.

Oral herpes causes tiny, fluid-filled lesions called cold sores or fever blisters, which can recur. (6)

How can you prevent an oral infection?

  • Avoid direct contact with the people who are suffering from various oral infections.
  • Avoid tobacco products.
  • Brush and floss daily
  • Visit a dentist for regular cleanings and checkups for any oral infection.
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water.
  • Eat more vitamin C rich food to keep your gums and periodontal fibers healthy.

Over to you on oral infection

Oral infection is very widespread problems and affects millions of people every year, but a proper diet and good oral hygiene can help you beat these infections.

Bacteria and viruses usually cause oral infections. Common oral infections are oral thrush, dental caries, canker sore, herpangina, etc.
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