The Most Common Oral Health Diseases

The Most Common Oral Health Diseases

Oral diseases include many diseases that affect teeth, gums, and other parts of your mouth or oral cavity, and globally, they’re a major health concern

As a leading oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Oakland and San Francisco, California, Brandon Kang, DDS, is skilled in oral pathology techniques that enable him to diagnose and manage oral health problems in patients at Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center

This post reviews some of the most common oral health diseases, so you know what symptoms to look for and understand how these problems are treated.

Tooth decay

More often referred to as cavities, tooth decay is one of the most common oral health problems, affecting patients of all ages, including kids with baby teeth. Decay happens when acids and bacteria eat away at healthy tooth material, causing symptoms like pain and swelling. 

Most cavities can be treated with fillings, but when decay reaches the inner pulp portion of your tooth, a root canal is typically a better option. Without prompt treatment, tooth decay can spread, leading to tooth loss and, eventually, deep infections of your jaw bone and soft tissues.

Gum disease

The most common cause of adult tooth loss in the United States, gum disease affects about half of all adults and about 70% of men and women 65 and older. Gum disease happens in stages, beginning when bacteria invades the space between your tooth and gum tissue. 

In its earliest stages, gum disease can be managed with better oral hygiene and more frequent dental cleanings. In more advanced stages, deep cleaning called scaling and root planing may be needed, along with antibiotics and gum graft surgery for severe gum recession.

Oral cancer

Oral cancer can happen anywhere in your mouth, and its early stages can be difficult to spot. Having twice-a-year dental visits enables Dr. Kang to spot early signs that might otherwise be missed.

When Dr. Kang notices an unusual area of tissue, he takes a small sample (called a biopsy) so it can be evaluated under a microscope. If cancer cells are found, he excises the area to remove the cells, then monitors the area closely.

Herpes viral infection

Herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that typically causes sores around your lips or inside your mouth. Sometimes referred to as cold sores or fever blisters, these ulcers eventually clear up, but the infection is still there.

While there’s no cure for herpes, there are treatments that can help prevent flare-ups or shorten their duration. Not only can that make you more comfortable, but it can also help prevent the spread to others.

Sores or ulcers

Commonly called canker sores, oral ulcers can be very painful, especially when you’re eating, drinking, or brushing your teeth. Lots of problems can cause oral ulcers, including vitamin deficiencies and immune system disorders.

Many people have occasional canker sores, but if you have these ulcers on a regular or repeated basis, it’s a good idea to have them checked out. Dr. Kang prescribes treatment based on the underlying cause of your sores, and may make referrals to other specialists as needed.


Candida is a type of fungus (or yeast) that’s found naturally in your body. Candidiasis happens when there’s an overgrowth of the fungus, causing white patches in your mouth or throat. Thrush is another common term for candidiasis.

Candidiasis typically develops after an illness or as a result of prolonged use of antibiotics or steroid medication. It can also happen if your immune system is compromised. Dr. Kang offers treatments aimed at stabilizing the candida population so your symptoms resolve.

Oral cysts

Cysts are sacs typically filled with fluid or tissue, and they commonly form around impacted teeth or teeth that have had deep infections. Cysts can interfere with your normal bite, and they can sometimes cause pain when you chew or speak.

While cysts typically are benign, some cysts can turn into cancerous tumors. During treatment, Dr. Kang removes the cyst or extracts material that can be examined under a microscope.

Early treatment is critical

Many oral health issues cause few or no symptoms in their earliest stages. During your regular oral exam, Dr. Kang performs an evaluation of your teeth, gums, and other oral structures to look for signs and symptoms that could indicate an evolving disease.

If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms in your mouth or jaws or if it’s been awhile since your last dental exam, book an appointment online or over the phone with the Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center office most convenient to you today and learn how we can help.

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