Oral hygiene is a gateway to overall body health. Our gums and tongue appear pinkish and our teeth are white in color. Changes in color to any of these can be indicative of underlying deficiencies or illnesses. One such is white spots on the gums that can be due to various reasons. These spots can appear independently or together as clusters leaving the affected person with pain or discomfort.
Most common causes of white spots on the gums include:
Mouth ulcer: Also known as canker sores, these white spots appear on the soft tissue of the mouth and around the gums. These sores might be oval or round in shape, comprise of red edges and contain a white or slightly yellow center. Common causes of mouth ulcer include dietary deficiencies, stress, irritation to mouth tissue or bacteria.
Leukoplakia: Sometimes, thick white patches are seen in the mouth and no amount of brushing can remove them. While smoking or chewing tobacco are said to be the common causes of leukoplakia even wearing ill-fitting dentures or long-term alcohol use is likelier to cause this disease.
Oral thrush: Overgrowth of Candida fungus can cause sores that look creamy white and have the texture of cottage cheese. Mostly affecting babies and older adults due to their reduced immunity this oral infection can affect anyone. Get more details about this fungal infection at www.firsteatright.com.
Oral lichen planus: This involves inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth and causes white patches. Sadly, no treatment is available to cure oral lichen and only pain management is possible.
The symptoms usually vary depending on the underlying cause.
Mouth ulcer: Red edges on the sores, stinging pain when using the mouth for any activity such as eating or talking and a burning sensation before onset of the infection.
Leukoplakia: Flat or irregular-shaped lesions that are red in color and become thicker or harder over time. This can lead to discomfort or pain while swallowing.
Oral thrush: Pain, redness, cracking or bleeding in the corners of the mouth, loss of taste and creamy sores.
Oral lichen planus: Redness, open sores, swelling, sensitivity to hot foods, burning pain and white patches.
Diagnosis & Treatment
While the sores might clearly explain the disease, the doctor sometimes suggests checking the tissue from the oral lesions for cancerous or precancerous cells. The physician also asks for the patient’s medical history and blood tests.
Treatment again depends on the underlying cause of the infection. In the case of canker sores, treatments such as salt-water rinsing, pain relief medications and ointments can relieve pain. Normally, the infection goes away within 2 weeks and in severe cases the physician prescribes steroids or laser.
Leukoplakia: The first step is to ask the patient to stop using tobacco. The white patches can be removed using a scalpel, laser or frozen off.
Oral thrush: Antifungal medications are prescribed usually.
Oral lichen planus: No cure is available and the treatments aim to reduce pain. Corticosteroids and numbing gels are generally used.
Practice good oral hygiene to stay away from gum infections. Follow the suggestions below and reap good oral health:
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.
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