Despite a high community prevalence, little is known about the occurrence of oral conditions in general practice. In an observational study, 354 new cases of oral complaints were recorded in 35 participating practices during a period of six months (cumulative incidence = 6.7 per 1000 per year). The incidence was highest in children under five years of age (21% of all cases). The conditions diagnosed most frequently were aphthous ulceration, oral candidiasis, and herpes simplex infection. Most oral conditions were minor ailments, and could be dealt with by the general practitioner alone.