Facts About Dental Health and Disease

It is exciting that oral health plays a crucial role in maintaining an individual’s overall health and well-being. We all are well aware of the damaging effects that poor oral hygiene has on the teeth and gum. Some of these effects include dental caries, cavity, and gum disease.

However, such effects can also impair the functioning of some of the vital organs in the body. For instance, the accumulation of bacteria and plaque in the mouth can lead to heart disease in the long run. Moreover, systemic diseases such as diabetes and cancer are also strongly linked with the dental health of the person.

Therefore, it is essential to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. Moreover, make this a lifelong commitment to stay away from the miseries of deadly health conditions. Today’s article will highlight the factors affecting oral health. Furthermore, we will discuss common dental diseases and their management.

What is the link between oral and general health?

Our mouth is the entry portal to the digestive and respiratory tracts in the body. This allows easy passage of food into the digestive tract. Additionally, it also becomes an entry point for oral bacteria into the body system.

Several systemic diseases are inter-linked to oral health such as –

  • Heart disease – endocarditis is one common infection of the heart valves caused by the spread of oral bacteria through the bloodstream. Additionally, inflammation and infection caused by bacteria can lead to blockage of blood vessels leading to stroke.
  • Respiratory illness – sometimes, oral bacteria may be pulled into the lungs leading to respiratory disorder and, in severe cases, pneumonia. (1)
  • Diabetes – Diabetes has the potential to reduce the body’s immunity to fight new infections. Moreover, it increases the risk of gum disease and periodontal breakdown.
  • Pregnancy complications – periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease which usually occurs due to poor oral hygiene. In pregnant mothers, it can lead to premature birth or low-birth-weight.

Usually, routine dental hygiene keeps the bacteria under control and prevents oral infections, especially tooth decay and gum disease. Moreover, saliva in a healthy mouth neutralizes the bacterial acids and prevents further damage to the teeth and gums.

What factors affect the health of teeth and gums?

Some of the common factors that contribute to poor oral health include –

  • Genetics
  • Habits like smoking or chewing tobacco
  • A poor diet that includes sugary and acidic food and beverages
  • Medications that may reduce saliva production (2)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Acid reflux or vomiting
  • Infections like HIV or AIDS

What are the symptoms of dental diseases?

You must be aware of the signs and symptoms of dental diseases. This will help you to identify the problem at an early stage and get prompt treatment. Some of the common symptoms of dental diseases include –

  • Bleeding from gums after brushing
  • Swelling or redness around the gums
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth sensitivity (3)
  • Loose gums or receding gums
  • Difficulty in chewing or speaking
  • Toothache
  • Sharp tooth indicating a fracture
  • Dry mouth
  • The clicking of the jaw
  • Swelling of the face or cheek

What are the different types of dental diseases and their management?

A person may experience a wide range of dental diseases at least once in their life. Most of these problems occur due to poor oral hygiene and can be treated effectively to prevent further damage. Some of the common dental diseases include –

Tooth decay and cavities

Tooth decay or cavities usually occur due to plaque formation. Dental plaque is a sticky biofilm that forms on the tooth surface. this layer contains bacteria, bacterial acids, and food debris, which wear away the enamel and attack the underlying layers of the teeth such as the dentin and pulp.(4)

In severe cases, the decay may involve the pulp tissue and impair the vitality of the tooth.

Treatment of such dental diseases usually includes excavating the carious lesion and restoration of the tooth with filling materials such as amalgam and composite. Extensive lesions may require root canal therapy followed by dental crown placement.

Gum disease and periodontitis

Clinically known as gingivitis is usually the inflammation of the gums. Like tooth decay, gum disease also occurs due to plaque build-up caused by inadequate oral hygiene and brushing habits. Gingivitis typically causes swollen gum and increases the risk of bleeding from the gums, especially while brushing or flossing.

Untreated gum disease cases can advance to severe forms of periodontitis, which can cause gum recession and bone loss.

Treatment of gum disease usually includes professional teeth cleaning and polishing, followed by proper oral health maintenance. Periodontitis is treated by deep teeth cleaning, pocket elimination, and flap surgery to treat gum recession. Antibiotics may be given to reduce the bacterial load.

Tooth fracture

Usually, tooth fractures are caused by traumatic injury to the mouth either by accident, teeth grinding, or chewing on hard food. This condition is often painful and requires dental attention right away.

Treatment of tooth fracture depends on the extent of the crack. In mild cases, the tooth may be restored by bonding. In severe cases, the tooth may have to be extracted and replaced by a dental bridge, implant, or denture.

Tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common dental problems experienced by people of all ages. Several factors contribute to tooth sensitivity, such as receding gums, enamel erosion, tooth fracture, and broken fillings. (5)

Typically, this problem can be addressed by the dentist. Tooth fillings may help to restore tooth fracture or replace broken fillings. Flap surgeries may help to reduce gum recession. Moreover, specialized sensitive toothpaste and mouth rinses can add beneficial value in reducing the sensitivity of teeth.

What is the best way to evaluate dental health?

The best way to evaluate your dental health is to regularly check your teeth, mouth, tongue, cheeks, and neck after your oral hygiene routine. Look for abnormal swelling, change in color, or bad smell. Regular dental check-ups are crucial to identify the early signs of tooth decay or gum disease.

Moreover, the dentist performs a thorough clinical and radiological examination, which helps to diagnose and plan treatment effectively accurately. Professional teeth cleaning is a part of routine dental check-ups, which helps to minimize the bacterial load in the mouth that may have developed due to plaque and calculus formation. (6)

Follow a good oral hygiene routine to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. This usually includes –

  • Brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste twice daily
  • Floss once a day after tooth brushing.
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash to have a fresh breath.
  • Switch to a healthy nutritious diet and avoid sugary, acidic or starchy food (7)
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Use sugar-free chewing gum.

Take away message

Oral health is not always limited to the health of the teeth and gums. It also has a significant impact on the overall health and well-being of an individual. Moreover, poor oral health can lead to unnecessary disturbance in the mouth’s functions, such as chewing and speaking.

Some of the common dental diseases include tooth decay, gum disease, tooth fracture, and sensitivity. People suffering from such ailments may experience pain, discomfort, swelling, difficulty in eating, and breathing.

It is best always to follow a good oral hygiene routine. Focus on your regular diet and routine dental check-ups to minimize the risk of dental disease and live a healthy life.

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