8 Common Oral Infections You Should Know About

A person dealing with an oral infection

Tooth decay that reaches the tooth’s pulp chamber is the most common cause of oral infections. When this happens, the pulp and nerves inside the tooth are left vulnerable to oral germs, food, and other contaminants. Ultimately, this leads to oral infections that make it difficult to eat, drink, and talk.

If an oral infection gets into your circulation, it can travel to other parts of your body, including internal organs like the brain and liver. Knowing the signs of common oral infections might help you catch them early. If the symptoms seem severe, you should see a dentist at once.

Let’s dive right into the most common oral infections affecting children and adults today and what causes them:

Types of oral infections

Certain oral infections are more severe and may require an oral surgeon’s assistance, while others can be treated through good oral hygiene. Nonetheless, learning about common infections and their causes is the key to preventing them altogether.


In its earliest stage, gum disease is known as gingivitis, and it can be brought on by several different types of bacteria. When bacteria grow in the fissures of the gums, it produces toxins that aggravate the gum tissue and cause inflammation. Brushing your teeth can cause bleeding gums after inflammation has set in.

Gingivitis affects over 50% of U.S. adults, reports the CDC. If the infection is treated in time, it can be prevented from progressing to periodontal disease.

Closeup of a person’s mouth covered with a dental retractor

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease can develop from untreated gingivitis. The infection can even reach the bones and underlying tissue behind the gums. Teeth become loose and fall out due to the resulting swelling and bone loss. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, affecting up to 47.2% of individuals aged 30 and up, according to the CDC.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

Toddlers and elementary school kids are most vulnerable to contracting hand-foot-and-mouth disease. This disease is caused by the “Coxsackie A16” virus. The symptoms of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease include a sore throat, fever, and unpleasant sores that reside within the cheeks and tongue.

These sores manifest whenever the skin is broken, including the palms, hips, and soles. In most cases, the infection and associated symptoms clear up within a few days.


Herpangina usually occurs during the warmer, drier summer and fall months and primarily affects children younger than 10 years old. Common signs of this disease include a sore throat, trouble swallowing, and a high temperature. There may also be some blistering in the child’s mouth. Herpangina is closely associated with hand, foot, and mouth disease and usually lasts between three and five days.

A person putting a cold compress on their cheek

Canker sores

Canker sores, sometimes called aphthous ulcers, are tiny lesions that manifest on the gums or other oral soft tissues. Canker sores will not develop on the lips and they aren’t contagious. They are unpleasant and make it hard to eat or talk, but they usually heal on their own after a week or two.

Canker sores may first feel tingly or burning before developing into round, yellow, or white blisters. The exact cause for these sores is unknown;  however, stress, hormones, immune system problems, and dietary hypersensitivities are common reasons.

Oral herpes

Oral herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, which affects between 50 to 80% U.S. adults. An infected person may experience blistering and ulcers on their tongue and gums, flu-like symptoms, or no outward signs. Although the virus will always remain present in the body, it can be kept inactive with the right treatment. In most cases, recurrent outbreaks subside after 10 days to two weeks.


Thrush is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans that thrives in warm, moist environments and multiplies rapidly in reaction to medications, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy. White, curd-like patches may develop on the palate, inner cheeks, tongue, and roof of the mouth. Individuals living with HIV are more susceptible to thrush.

A person getting their teeth examined by a dentist

Cavities (dental caries)

Dental caries, commonly known as cavities, are holes that develop in teeth due to decay. The  National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that the Streptococcus mutans bacteria, which feeds on sweet, sticky foods and drinks, can create cavities in teeth. This can cause children to lose baby teeth (primary teeth). It is the most common reason for tooth loss and dental decay in kids below the age of 12.

Connect with reliable oral surgeons in Mission Viejo

One way to prevent these oral infections is by scheduling regular checkups with a reputable dentist. At Mission Implant Center, our team is equipped with the knowledge, experience, expertise, and tools to keep your dental health in check. We offer various dental services in Mission Viejo, including dental implants, laser gum surgery, and cosmetic crown lengthening.

Contact our team or schedule an appointment with us to learn more.


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