Herpes simplex is an inflammatory viral disease that manifests
itself as ulcers in the mouth and gingival tissues. The
gums can become inflamed, especially in the region of the
ulcers. If you have a severe occurrence of the virus, then you
should seek medical advice to see if there are other underlying
factors causing this condition. Herpes simplex can be
chronic and latent, returning later in life. The gums can
become inflamed, especially in the regions of the ulcers.
Remedies: Seek medical advice. Bed rest is important.
Drink plenty of fluids, and stay away from juices that contain
acid, such as grapefruit juice and orange juice.
Dermatitis is a diseased condition that appears as inflammation
of the skin. The gum tissue is much like the skin on
your face and shares similar histologic (cellular structure)
characteristics. Diseases affecting your skin are lichen
planus, candidiasis, psoriasis, pemphigus vulgaris, and
Lichen planus is a chronic disease related to the immune
system, often affecting people in middle age. It affects the
mucous membranes of the mouth. You may see a white lacy
line on the gingiva (gum tissue). You may be prone to plaque
retention on the teeth and therefore develop gingivitis.
Remedies: If you have lichen planus, seek medical
advice. Topical steroids can be useful in controlling flareups.
There is no cure for this problem.
Candidiasis is produced by candida, a fungal yeast
infection. It is also referred to as thrush or acute
pseudomembranous candidiasis. The roof of your mouth and
cheeks are covered with white patches that when wiped off,
leave a very sensitive, reddened, ulcerative area. This condition
can cause more plaque retention and poor oral hygiene
conditions, thus creating a severe gum problem.
Remedies: See your physician to have him or her suggest
antifungal agents, which can be either topical or systemic.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes a sloughing
off of cells. It is often found on the elbows, knees, or other joints, and on the scalp. Psoriasis also can affect the fingernails
and the gums and oral cavity. It may leave the gums
loose and irritated. Psoriasis, when aggravated, can be itchy
and flaky, and a source of great annoyance to the person who
Remedies: A high-protein/low-fat diet can help in controlling
the condition. Eating fats and sugars aggravates psoriasis,
so it is best to eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables.
Cucumbers, celery, and grapefruit, which are known as
blood-cooling foods, are extremely good for people with
psoriasis. Seek medical advice as well.
Pemphigus affects elderly people, and women more frequently
than men. The skin and mucous membranes as well
as the gingiva are affected. A reddening of the tissue occurs,
which can cause the gums to recede.
Remedies: Seek professional advice. Topical steroids
may be necessary.
Pemphigoid is a lesion most common in women beyond
middle age. It can affect the oral mucous. It may be a cause
of irritation to the gingiva.
Remedies: Seek professional advice. Physicians are
most likely to prescribe steroids.
Alcohol abuse affects the liver. Liver damage may develop
into hepatitis or cirrhosis, a chronic inflammatory disease of
the liver. Excessive alcohol use also affects the cardiovascular
and nervous systems. Oral effects shown in alcoholics
include bleeding gums and easy bruising. Individuals who
drink excessively usually have poor oral hygiene habits.
Remedies: Have professional cleanings frequently. Take
vitamins and try to eat properly. Drink plenty of water and
reduce your alcohol consumption. Seek counseling for help
in reducing alcohol abuse.
Cancer of the Head and Neck
Cancer of the head and neck can cause gum problems and
excessive bleeding. If you have been treated with chemotherapy,
you will notice that your gums will bleed easily and
you may also be prone to infection. If you have been undergoing
radiation treatment, you may find that your mouth is
always dry. This condition is called “xerostomia.” Dry
mouth can cause more plaque retention and make your teeth
prone to decay, especially if your gums have receded to the
point where the roots are exposed.
Remedies: Have frequent cleanings. Eat a balanced diet
and drink more fluids. If you find that you are suffering from
dry mouth, there are supplements you can purchase in the
drugstore that act as saliva and moisturize the oral cavity.
You can purchase Biotine products in health food stores; a
mouthwash and toothpaste are available specifically for dry
mouth. You can also use baking soda chewing gum, which
enhances the flow of saliva and helps neutralize the acids
that are prevalent in dry mouth.
AIDS is defined as acquired immune deficiency syndrome,
a severe condition that is different from any other disease
because it has no constant specific symptoms. People with
HIV infection or AIDS have oral manifestations that appear as inflamed gum tissue and severely inflamed mucous tissue.
These individuals can also have abnormalities such as herpes
appearing in the mouth, leukoplakia (a whitish patch
found on the cheek), and precancerous lesions. People with
AIDS are more prone to gingivitis, a reddening of the gum
at the tooth margin.
Patients who have AIDS are also prone to getting thrush
or candidiasis, a white patch that is usually found on the
palate (roof of the mouth). Patients with AIDS also are more
likely to have acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
(ANUG). With ANUG, a person suffers severe pain in the
region of the mouth and has a characteristic, unpleasant
mouth odor. There is spontaneous bleeding, and sometimes
severe bleeding in the gums.
Remedies: See a dentist or hygienist. Have routine
cleanings, and use echinacea toothpaste to nurture the gum
tissue. Use aloe to soothe your irritated gums (apply at
Leukemia and Other Diseases
The oral cavity can be a diagnostic indicator for many diseases
of the immune system. The lymphocytes (white blood
cells, or disease-fighting cells) are the key cells of the
immune system. Systemic diseases characterized by reduced
host defense include diabetes and Down’s syndrome. They
are usually accompanied by severe gum disease. Leukemia
is another disease that shows up in the gum tissue. In certain
forms of leukemia, there is increased susceptibility to infection
and periodontal disease. Gum disease is a problem
because of the immunosuppression associated with the disease. In certain forms of leukemia, such as myeloblastic
leukemia, gingival enlargement occurs as a result of the
leukemia cells in the gum tissue.
Remedies: Seek professional guidance. Develop good
oral hygiene at home and clean your mouth frequently. Eat
softer foods, chew your foods carefully, and drink fluids
while you are eating. Have frequent cleanings by your dentist
or hygienist; and at home use herbal rinses, keep your
mouth clean with baking soda or sea salt, and massage the
gums with oreganol (two or three drops on top of an herbal