8 Most Common Oral Infections
Sticking to a daily oral care regimen and scheduling bi-annual checkups with the Center for Beautiful Smiles is about more than just white teeth and straight smiles. The oral bacteria that festers from forgetting to brush, floss, and otherwise care for your teeth can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, viruses, and other common infections in both adults and children. Some of these infections are short-term issues preventable with good oral hygiene, but others are more advanced and can stick around for some time.
One of the most common oral infections, dental caries are the primary result of tooth decay. Widely known as the leading cause of tooth loss in children 12 and under, dental caries are caused by the bacteria known as “Streptococcus mutans.”
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Most commonly found in toddlers and school-aged children, Hand, foot, and mouth disease is often caused by from the virus “Coxsackie A16.” Symptoms include one to two days of fever and sore throat, the formation of painful blisters on the cheek and tongue, as well as the butt, palms, and soles of feet. Luckily, the infection typically only lasts a few days.
Related to hand, foot, and mouth disease, herpangina typically affects children ages 3 through 10 during the summer and fall seasons. Its symptoms start similarly to hand, foot, and mouth disease, with fevers, sore throat, and difficulty swallowing. These issues lead to the formation of small blisters in the back of the mouth, which ultimately form large ulcers once they rupture. Fortunately, like hand, foot, and mouth disease, Herpangina and its symptoms typically only last three to five days.
Gingivitis, or the medical term for early gum disease, is caused by various bacteria that can fester in the mouth. When these bacteria settle into those hard to reach crevices in your mouth, such as the gum line and below it, they begin to produce toxins. These toxins cause a reaction in your gums, leading to inflammation and swelling, which can become a major reason why your gums bleed when you floss. A surprisingly high number of people have some form of gingivitis (estimated between 50 and 90 percent of all adults), and if untreated, this infection can lead to periodontal disease.
When gingivitis spreads below the gum line, it can affect the supporting tissues and bone and lead to periodontal disease. Pockets start to form around the teeth, which result in inflammation and bone loss. Eventually, these teeth can loosen due to bone destruction. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, affecting 8 to 10 percent of Americans over 18. And if certain bacteria are sucked into the lungs, periodontal disease can lead to pneumonia or other serious lung conditions.
Formed from an overgrowth of the naturally occurring fungus known as “Candida albicans,” thrush outbreaks often occur in response to medical treatments such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, and radiation. Symptoms include the appearance of white, curd-like plaques on the tongue, palate, inner cheeks, and back of mouth. Thrush is most commonly an infection for people with HIV.
Canker sores are lesions that develop on the gums and other tissues of the mouth. Known to dentists as aphthous ulcers, canker sores are most often a problem for children and adolescents. While their cause is still a bit of a mystery, potential triggers include hormones, immune problems, stress, food sensitivities, and other infections. These sores can take anywhere from 10 days to two weeks to clear up.
Oral herpes is an infection stemming from the herpes simplex virus, which somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of all American adults carries. Initial infection could lead to blisters and ulcers on the gums and tongue, flu-like symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Once infected, the virus remains permanently in your body, but proper care can keep the infection dormant. Recurring outbreaks typically last 10 to 14 days.
It is important to know the symptoms of the most common oral infections, and if you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to call and schedule an appointment at the Center for Beautiful Smiles.