Other mouth conditions

Aside from tooth decay and gum disease, there are a number of other mouth conditions

Aspiration Pneumonia

  • An infection of the lungs due to the inhalation of food, drink, plaque or other material.
  • Occurs most often in people who have difficulty swallowing or controlling their gag reflex.
  • Higher rates for adults who live in residential care and have poor oral hygiene.
  • Good daily mouth care is important to prevent aspiration pneumonia for people who are at risk.

Dental erosion

  • The tooth surface is worn away by frequent exposure to acid eg; the acids in soft drinks or from the stomach when vomiting or regurgitating.

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Dry mouth (xerostomia)

  • Reduced saliva in the mouth.
  • Antidepressants, antipsychotics and sedative medications have been linked to dry mouth and reduced saliva flow.
  • Low saliva increases risk of tooth decay and gum disease
  • There are products that can help with dry mouth – ask an oral health professional.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD), rumination, regurgitation

  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD) occurs when the stomach contents (including stomach acid) move back up into the oesophagus and mouth.
  • Rumination occurs when chewed food is brought back up into the mouth, chewed and swallowed again.
  • These conditions can lead to dental erosion (tooth wear) because stomach acid comes into frequent contact with the teeth.
  • People with these conditions should be monitored closely by a dental professional.

Gingival hyperplasia (enlarged gums)

  • Gums are red and swollen.
  • Can be a side effect of medications such as anticonvulsants (used in epilepsy) and immune system suppressants (used during organ transplant procedures).
  • Seek the advice of an oral health professional.

Oral (mouth) cancer

  • The most common oral sites are the lip and the tongue.
  • Tobacco smoking and drinking alcohol are the major causes in Australia.
  • Oral cancer is comparatively uncommon in Australia.

Signs and symptoms:

  • A white patch, particularly on the side or under the tongue
  • A visible lump that may or may not be painful
  • an ulcer (sore) that won’t heal
  • bleeding from a lump or ulcer
  • ”Floating teeth” (teeth able to move up and down like piano keys)
  • Swollen lymph glands

Reduce risk of mouth cancer by quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and protecting lips from the sun.

Oral thrush

  • A fungal infection.
  • Looks like white patches in the mouth that can be wiped away.
  • Can be caused by medications such as some antibiotics and steroids (e.g. asthma preventers).
  • Poor daily mouth care can also lead to oral thrush.
  • May be seen more often in people with an intellectual disability.
  • Grinding can lead to tooth wear, gum disease and sometimes tooth loss.

For more information about a range of health conditions, see the Better Health Channel: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au