Soft-Tissue Diseases

Since the mouth (oral cavity) is an extension of the digestive system, many diseases that affect your digestive system will also appear in your mouth. Some of the symptoms can be sore or bleeding gums, ulcerations, or a bad smell or taste; sometimes there are no symptoms. 

Some of the more common diseases are the following:

  • Xerostomia (Dry Mouth) is associated with radiation therapy, drug therapy, and aging.  

  • Mucocele (Retention Cyst) is caused by local trauma to an area, such as a biting injury.  

  • Aphthous Ulcer (Canker Sore) can cause severe local discomfort. With canker sores, it is common to have more than one and for them to recur many times. They are most common in young adults.

  • Recurrent Herpes (Fever Blisters/Cold Sores) is most commonly from the type 1 herpes virus. When cold sores appear, it is in clusters of small blisters, and they sometimes merge to form large ulcers. Cold sores most often appear on the lower lip and, like canker sores, can cause local discomfort; and it is common for them to recur many times. Before a lesion appears, there is often itching, burning, or tingling in the area.  

  • Lichen Planus is an autoimmune disease that can present with a variety of symptoms that either causes the tissue to slough off or forms blisters in the mouth. These lesions can appear on the tongue, the gums, or the cheeks. Lichen Planus does cause local discomfort, ranging from a burning sensation to severe pain, and it is most common in middle-aged women.  

  • Pemphigus is also an autoimmune disease. Unlike Lichen Planus, the blisters caused by Pemphigus can appear anywhere inside the mouth and may cause severe discomfort. It occurs with equal frequency in both men and women.  

  • Herpes Zoster (Shingles) is an acute recurrence of the varicella zoster (chickenpox) virus, and yes, it can occur in the mouth as well as on the skin. Shingles appears in the form of small blisters that rupture to form ulcers, and it causes severe pain.

  • Lupus Erythematosus is another autoimmune disease that most commonly occurs in young to middle-aged women. It is thought to be triggered by a genetic defect or a viral infection.  

  • Metastatic Carcinoma occurs most frequently on the gums. It is often associated with HPV and is caused by the spreading of a malignancy elsewhere: the most common primary sites are breast, lung, colon, or prostate.

There are also many systemic (general) diseases that affect your oral health, such as heart disease, leukemia, diabetes, and others. In the same way, your oral health will affect these diseases. The inflammation in periodontal disease releases C-reactive proteins, which adversely affect blood vessels, your heart, and profusion (blood flow) to your brain which can cause a stroke.

It is very important to address your specific condition, because each condition is treated differently. With proper treatment, both your oral and your general health may improve.

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