Your body communicates to you when something is wrong by producing symptoms. It’s important not to overlook these symptoms, but to seek diagnosis and treatment! Discover four oral diseases you should watch for during your monthly examination of your mouth.
1. Oral Cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that roughly 11,000 people will die from oral cancer in 2021. The number one cause of oral cancer is the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is a sexually transmitted infection. Excess alcohol consumption and smoking cigarettes, cigars, and other nicotine products are two more causes of oral cancer. The first signs of oral cancer are a wound that will not heal and/or white or red patches in your mouth.
2. Herpes Simplex Virus (HPV)
Herpes Simplex Virus is a very common and contagious oral disease that can be spread through contact (i.e. kissing, sharing lip balm or utensils, sharing beverages, etc.). You may experience symptoms such as tingling and burning sensation near your mouth, painful blisters in or near your mouth, or sores on your genitals if the virus was spread through sexual contact. Anti-viral medication may relieve your discomfort, but the sores tend to go away on their own.
3. Black Hairy Tongue
The only positive aspect of this oral disease is that you don’t actually develop black hairs on your tongue. However, this disease is named Black Hairy Tongue because that’s exactly what it looks like. In actuality, dead skin cells collect on your tongue’s surface and are stained by anything you consume (alcohol, food, nicotine products, etc.). Quitting smoking for good and implementing good oral hygiene techniques can stop this oral disease in its tracks.
4. Candidiasis, also known as Thrush
Candidiasis occurs when there is an overgrowth of fungal elements in your mouth. When overgrowth is present, you may notice red or white patches in your mouth. Anti-fungal medication can clear up the oral thrush along with lifestyle changes to minimize the chance of recurring thrush. For example, those who are diabetic, wear dentures (and subsequently have dry mouth), or have a weakened immune system are more susceptible to candidiasis.