Maintaining Oral Health
Why is oral health important?
The oral environment is full of microorganisms, predominantly bacteria, viruses and fungi. In certain situations, one of these groups of “bugs” overgrows, and this causes a local infection and often in the whole mouth. These conditions need to be diagnosed so they can be treated.
Of note are different herpes and HPV lesions that can infect the mouth.
We use bacterial DNA testing and are also able to test for Candida (fungus) and HPV (virus linked to throat cancer).
Some patients have other situations like autoimmune conditions that affect the gums and other oral structures. Lesions suspicious for oral cancer on the different structures needs to be diagnosed and even taken out with a biopsy (gums, cheeks, lips, throat).
Symptoms of Poor Oral Health:
- The symptoms depend on the diagnosis, and this is why we often take small biopsies that allow us to diagnose.
- Thankfully, many autoimmune diseases have no symptoms. Some do present as bleeding gums, peeling of the gum tissue, and pain from ulcers.
- Other lesions that could be benign or cancerous look like a growth where they are detected. The shape of the lesion might give an indication about what it could be, but it’s best to do a biopsy for peace of mind. Every year, we diagnose multiple cancers that go unnoticed.
How to improve oral health
The solution to the problem depends on the diagnosis. This is why we commonly take a small piece of tissue for pathologic evaluation. For infections, we would recommend either an antibiotic, antiviral medication or an antifungal (depending on the diagnosis).
Many autoimmune conditions that are not symptomatic can be monitored by us yearly. For other autoimmune conditions that are symptomatic, a steroid solution might be the best option.
Not treating infections, oral cancer, and autoimmune conditions can result in persistent pain, worsening symptoms, and complications. It is obvious that growths need to be biopsied and fully removed, especially if cancerous or precancerous. Oral cancer that is left untreated can grow and damage the adjacent structures and even spread as metastasis.
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