3 common oral health conditions to be aware of

It’s common to suffer from oral symptoms and not know what they mean for your health. So, we’ve unpacked three common oral conditions that you shouldn’t ignore to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth or xerostomia occurs when there is not enough saliva in the mouth and is often a symptom of an underlying condition, rather than a disease in itself. Xerostomia can lead to an increase in cavities, as saliva plays a role in protecting teeth against caries by neutralising acids produced by bacteria, and aiding in digestion.

Causes of dry mouth are varied but can include prescription medication, medical treatments, dehydration, mouth breathing, autoimmune diseases or infection.

Common signs and symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • A sticky or dry feeling in the mouth or throat
  • Frequent thirst
  • Split skin at the corners of the mouth or cracked lips
  • A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth or the tongue
  • A rough, dry, red, or raw tongue
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Bad breath
  • Oral thrush or infections of the salivary glands
  • Difficulty with speech, taste, chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty wearing dentures


Treating options for dry mouth depend upon the underlying cause and may include options such as changing medication or dosages, treating any infections present and attempting to increase saliva production.

Where dry mouth is a result of an underlying condition and not necessarily able to be reversed/treated definitively, the symptoms can be treated to provide relief. Options for managing symptoms include sipping water regularly, use of non-alcoholic mouthwash and gels containing a lubricant and use of commercially available salivary substitutes. It’s also a good idea to avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking and dry or spicy foods for relief.


Bad Breath

Bad breath or halitosis can have many causes but is commonly caused by sulphur-producing bacteria that normally live on the surface of the tongue and throat. Treatment depends on the underlying cause which can include, consuming foods such as garlic and onion, food particles trapping around teeth or dentures, smoking, dry mouth, dental infections such as periodontitis (gum disease), and nasal or sinus infections. Halitosis can also come from odours from the gastrointestinal tract, or be indicative of an underlying problem.

Halitosis is most commonly caused however by sulphur-producing bacteria that normally live on the surface of the tongue and throat.

Halitosis symptoms can include:

  • A dry mouth
  • A white coating on the tongue
  • Build-up of plaque and calculus or food debris around teeth
  • A burning tongue
  • Thick saliva
  • A constant need to clear your throat
  • A constant sour, bitter metallic taste

Treating halitosis depends on the underlying cause but good oral hygiene, including tongue brushing is an important first step. The use of tongue scrapers as well as mouthwashes, lozenges and toothpastes can help remove bad breath. Drinking water frequently can also assist by removing any stagnated saliva which can contribute to bad breath and is one of the common causes of “morning breath”.



Gingivitis is an infection of the gums that, if left untreated can progress to periodontitis (disease of the supporting tissues surrounding teeth including the bone). Not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis and by itself is usually reversible. Gingivitis occurs when a build-up of bacteria in plaque adheres in a sticky film onto the surface of the tooth causing the adjacent gums to become inflamed.

Gingivitis symptoms may include:

  • Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are red, tender or swollen
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • The presence of pus or exudate between teeth and gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Sensitive or loose teeth

There are a variety of treatment options for gingivitis, which usually involve removal of any plaque build-ups and of any rough edges of fillings that provide a safe haven for the build-up of plaque.

These conditions can be prevented by effective regular oral hygiene, but if you’re suffering from any of the above conditions or symptoms it is important to book an appointment to investigate any potential causes and find the most effective treatment for you.

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