Dr David Nolte takes a look at some common oral health issues.
As dentists, we not only see problems with the teeth, such as decay or breakages, but also with the rest of your mouth, as we examine you. This offers an excellent opportunity to monitor your overall oral health and offer advice where any problems are noted.
Whilst there are some potentially very serious oral health issues that can be detected in this way, there are also others which may still need to be treated, albeit less serious.
Even non serious conditions in the mouth can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. They can also make everyday tasks such as eating, very difficult and often uncomfortable. They may even cause us to stop brushing our teeth completely if the discomfort is too significant and as our Bedford patients will know from our previous blogs, this could be a recipe for disaster!
In today’s blog, we take a look at some of the other more common oral health problems that we come across from time to time at The Dental Centre Bedford.
Yes, tooth decay, or dental caries, is actually caused by bacterial infection. As the bacteria multiply, often due to poor oral care, they produce acidic bi-products which then start to damage the tooth, leading to cavities which will need to be cleaned and filled. For anyone interested, the bacteria which is a main contributor to this problem, is called Streptococcus mutans.
We have touched on this a few times before, but essentially, gingivitis is the earlier stage of gum disease. It is caused by a number of different bacteria which, when not removed, accumulate in the hard to reach spots in the mouth, such as just below the gum line. They then produce substances which cause the gums to become inflamed and sore. There is an ever growing school of thought that some of these bacteria can enter the bloodstream and may contribute towards other illnesses, not just problems in the mouth.
Periodontitis usually follows on from gingivitis if it is not treated. We do strongly recommend that our patients take advantage of the dental hygiene service that we offer at our Bedford practice, in order to help avoid this. Where periodontitis is present, there is a real risk to the underlying bone structure in the mouth and tooth loss is a likely outcome unless surgical intervention is carried out.
This is caused by the herpes simplex virus and is a widely carried disease. It does not always exhibit symptoms, but when it does, these can be quite unpleasant and include blisters on the oral soft tissues as well as flu like symptoms. The infection can remain dormant and then flare up from time to time. Younger children with this may also find that their gums swell, causing discomfort when eating.
Thrush is caused by the fungus ‘Candida Albicans’ and is not uncommon when treatments such as the use of chemotherapy or antibiotics are being used. Although a natural fungus that is present at all times, poor immunity at times like this cause the onset of rapid growth, leading to visible white patches in the mouth. It is not contagious and can usually be treated with anti-fungal medication.
Sometimes also called aphthous ulcers in the dental profession, these are lesions that commonly form on the soft tissues of the mouth, such as the gums. They tend to be more common in children and young adults and have been linked to immune system problems and food intolerance amongst other things. Although they can be uncomfortable, most will usually heal within a fortnight. Longer term lesions should be examined at by one of our Bedford dental team.
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
This is most common in babies and young toddlers. It is usually caused by the bacteria, Coxsackie A16. As well as painful blisters which can occur inside the mouth, it can also exhibit external symptoms such as fever and a sore throat. It is rarely serious though and usually, within three or four days, the infections will have started to disappear.
This is another relatively common childhood illness and is very similar to hand foot and mouth disease. It is also caused by the same virus. The symptoms too are very similar, with a sore throat and fever common, along with blisters on the roof of the mouth and sometimes in the back of the throat. As with hand foot and mouth, it is treatable and usually goes in between 3 and 10 days.
Although most of these infections sound quite horrible, the best way of avoiding them is to make sure that your overall mouth health remains as good as possible. Good oral care is essential for this and includes professional supervision and any treatment when the need arises.
To give yourself the best chance to keep your mouth healthy, please make sure to see a dentist at The Dental Centre Bedford every six months or so. Appointments can be made by calling us on 01234 819868.
Dr David Nolte – GDC 70172