Oral Medicine

What is an oral disease?

Enduring bad breath can be downright embarrassing, which is why finding the root cause of it can lead to better oral care. Tooth decay, a build-up of bacteria on your tongue, gum disease, dry mouth, canker sores and cancer of the mouth contributes to bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away. Using mouthwash may be a temporary cover for bad breath but isn't a permanent solution, especially if there's a much more concerning oral disease requiring medical or surgical intervention.

What are cavities?

Cavities are the most common problem worldwide—a cavity forms when plaque, a sticky white substance, clings onto your tooth's enamel. When combined with sugars or starch from your diet, the blend becomes acidic and destroys the enamel. Skipping regular dental checks, not brushing your teeth twice daily and having a dry mouth leads to tooth decay.


What is gum disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, causes inflamed gums, which is the primary reason for tooth loss. There's a close link between cardiovascular (heart) disease and periodontal disease, mostly occurring in your forties but can happen sooner due to poor oral care, diabetes or dry mouth.


What is oral cancer?

Oral cancer is a fatal disease and more common than you think. Oral cancer can attack your tongue, the roof of your mouth, the insides of your cheeks and throat. This life-threatening oral disease starts as a mouth sore from the rapid growth of cells. Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), amongst others are the most common causes of oral cancer. Recognising oral cancer in its early stages will prevent the risk of the disease’s advancement significantly.


What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth, sometimes referred to as xerostomia, occurs when your salivary glands produce insufficient saliva to moisten your mouth. Dry mouth can happen when you take prescription medication for chronic disease or have recently undergone radiation therapy to treat cancer.


What are canker sores?

Canker sores are tiny lesions that form beneath your gums or in the soft tissues of your mouth. Unlike cold sores, mouth ulcers don't develop on your lips and are limited to oral surfaces.


What are oral mucosal diseases?

Mucosal disorders affect the genital or oral mucous membranes and arise from autoimmune disease, the infiltration of viruses, bacteria or yeast infection. Hairy tongue and lichen planus are types of oral mucosal diseases. Oral lichen planus, an immunological disorder, is lacy white or red, exposed lesions that occur inside your mouth, usually on the interior of your cheeks and cause a burning sensation. Hairy tongue, another type of mucosal disease, occurs in over 10% of the population and forms a carpet of dead skin cells, which is exacerbated by stains of tobacco, yeast and bacteria.


What are the causes of oral disease?

Your oral cavity accumulates viruses, fungi and bacteria, some of which are necessary and comprise the natural flora of your mouth. These organisms are often harmless and pose no threat in a small quantity, but a high sugar diet allows bacteria to thrive, produce more acid, and slowly dissolve your tooth's enamel. Bacteria close to your gum line flourish in a matrix, or what we refer to as plaque. When plaque hardens, it can travel down the root of your tooth and inflame your gums. Persistent inflammation prompts your gums to recede from your tooth, which is an invitation for pockets of pus to form in between these spaces. This condition is what we call periodontitis which makes up 75% of adult tooth loss cases.


Evaluation

Suppose you suspect you have oral disease, the symptoms being bleeding gums, chronic bad breath, dry mouth, orofacial pain, canker sores or an uncomfortable feeling at the back of your throat. In that case, we ask that you undergo a comprehensive oral and radiographic examination, and an evaluation of your medical history by Dr Abram.


Treatment Steps

Oral Medicine specialists treat a wide variety of conditions of the face and oral cavity, including:

  • Oral Mucosal Diseases
  • Orofacial Pain Conditions
  • Salivary glands and dry mouth disorders
  • Diagnosis of oral cancer and oral complications related to cancer treatments
  • Provide dental care for patients with complex medical problems.

Patients are often referred from throughout the health care system by practitioners in fields such as general dentistry, dental specialities, primary care medicine, internal medicine, paediatrics, dermatology, otorhinolaryngology (ENT), neurology, rheumatology, ophthalmology, oncology, and radiation oncology.