There are several causes of oral diseases ranging from chemical burns as a result of aspirin or tobacco use to hormonal disturbances from simply going through puberty or becoming pregnant. One cause of great concern is microorganisms. From bacteria to viruses, there are many pathogenic microorganisms that may be found in the oral cavity. As a dental assistant, we should be capable of identifying an abnormal condition in the mouth and making sure to inform the dentist about it. A virus that is common and may be fairly easy to recognize is Type 1 herpes simplex. This type or herpes shows up as a cold sore or a cluster of small blisters usually on or around the lips. They vary in size and usually last about a week or two, but symptoms do reappear throughout life. These cold sores are really contagious and may be spread through direct contact, which is why dental assistants must be especially careful when working with a patient who has herpes or just reschedule the patient. The dental assistant must also make sure to eliminate cross-contamination by maintaining asepsis. Another type of microorganism that may cause infections in the oral cavity is bacteria. Bacteria are known to cause actinomycosis and aphthous ulcers. Actinomysosis is usually derived from poor dental hygiene or microorganisms making their way in through the dental socket after tooth removal. With actinomycosis there is painful swelling followed by discharge of pus and yellow granules. Like actinomycosis, aphthous ulcers can also be painful. Many people know them as canker sores. These are not contagious, but the recurrence of these painful ulcers is usually due to heredity, trauma, stress, food allergens, and hormonal changes. Aphthous ulcers appear as circular lesions with yellow centers and a red “halo” surrounding the lesion. It is best to reschedule patients in these cases because of the discomfort these infections bring about. Microorganisms are also known to...
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