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Common oral health complaints

Dental caries (decay)
Dental caries is normally linked to sugar. When the mouths natural bacteria (in plaque) come into contact with sugar an acid is produced. The acid attacks the tooth enamel and over time can cause decay.

The only way to prevent this is to:

  1. Limit your sugar intake
  2. Remove plaque from teeth
  3. Visit your dentist regularly so they can check your teeth for early signs of decay.

Gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis)
Signs of gum disease include:

  • Bleeding gums.
  • Red, swollen or tender gums.
  • Gums detaching from teeth.
  • Chronic bad breath and a bad taste.

Gingivitis is the first sign of gum disease i.e. when gums bleed, if they are untreated it may lead to periodontitis, gum recession and tooth loss.

Dry mouth (xerostomia)
This can be an uncomfortable condition that can affect speech, eating and swallowing. It addition it can reduce the ability to taste and hence enjoy food/drink.

Saliva is an important factor in reducing the risk of tooth decay as it neutralises the acid caused by eating sugary food and drinks.

Bad breath is also related to dry mouth. The most common cause of dry mouth is as a side effect to many medications.

Relieving symptoms:

  • Stay hydrated.
  • Try chewing gum.
  • There are many artificial salivary products available, speak to your dentist, GP or pharmacist for more information.

Oral Infections
Gums may become more susceptible to damage from dentures, hard food and toothbrushing. Ulcers may be a result of this – anyone suffering from ulcers that do not heal after 2-3 weeks should consult their dentist.

Oral Thrush
This is particularly common among denture wearers. Often it is painless but can cause inflamed areas on the gum, white plaque on the tongue and it can also affect the corners of the mouth. Oral hygiene and regular removal and cleaning of dentures can both prevent and cure this condition. Antifungal treatment may be prescribed.

Mouth Cancer

If in doubt, get checked out!

Look for:

  • Bleeding gums.
  • Mouth ulcers that don’t heal.
  • White or red patches.
  • Any unusual changes in the mouth.


  • 5000 new cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.
  • Mouth cancer cases have increased by more than 17% over the last 4 years.
  • One death every 5 hours in the UK!

If spotted early you have a 90% chance of survival.

Smoking or chewing tobacco can also:

  • Damage teeth and gums.
  • Cause bad breath.
  • Lead to stained teeth, gum disease and tooth loss.
  • Cause loss of taste and irritate the gums.

Both tobacco and alcohol use increases the risk of developing mouth cancer.