Did you know that oral health is a crucial indicator of your overall health, well-being, and quality of life? According to the 2nd edition of The Oral Health Atlas, oral health is about more than healthy teeth and a good looking smile.
Alarmingly, about 3.5 billion people are affected by the three most common chronic oral diseases worldwide, such as tooth decay, gum diseases, and oral cancer. Oral health inequalities exist among the different populations worldwide, with costly dental treatment in high-income countries and the demand for oral health care beyond the capacities of the health care system in middle and low-income countries. A visit to the dentist becomes essential.
Common Oral Health Problems
Bacteria thriving in your body are common and mostly harmless. However, your mouth, being the entry point to our digestive and respiratory tracts, are prone to disease when some of these bacteria cannot be kept under control. Especially if you have poor oral hygiene. It is not surprising that you’ll likely experience some dental problems in your lifetime. Knowing the signs and symptoms may lead to prevention.
Here are some common oral health problems that you need to know about:
1. Dental Caries/Tooth Decay
Dental Caries or tooth decay are also called cavities. These occur when plaque is formed on your teeth when bacteria, food, and acid coat your teeth. Without proper oral care, the acid on your teeth eats away at the enamel and the underlying dentin or connective tissue. This then causes the development of cavities and pain, tooth loss, and infection.
2. Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Gum disease presents as swollen and bleeding gums, painful gums, and sometimes, bad breath. This comes as a result of plaque building up on your teeth due to poor brushing and flossing habits. The more severe form is the loss of gum attachment to the tooth and supporting bones leading to loosening of teeth or periodontitis. This may also cause an inflammatory response throughout the body.
3. Tooth Loss
Dental cavity and gingivitis are major causes of tooth loss. Severe tooth loss and edentulism (no natural teeth remaining) are mainly seen among older people.
4. Cracked or Broken Teeth/Oro-Dental Trauma
A cracked tooth can be very painful. It usually occurs from environmental factors (an injury to the mouth due to unsafe playground or risk-taking behavior or violence), chewing hard foods, or grinding the teeth at night. Treatment can be lengthy and costly.
5. Oral Cancer
Oral cancer includes cancer of the gums, tongue, lips, and all subsites of the oral cavity and oropharynx. Oral cancer is more common in men and varies on socio-economic conditions. Among the leading cause of oral cancer, especially in some Asian-pacific countries, are tobacco, alcohol, and areca nut (betel quid) use.
6. Oral Manifestations of HIV infection
An estimated 30 to 80% of people with HIV have oral manifestations. This includes fungal, bacterial, or viral infections, of which oral candidiasis is the most common and often the first symptom early in the course of the disease. This lesion causes pain, discomfort, dry mouth, and eating restrictions. It is a constant source of other infections.
Understanding Oral Health and General Health
Recent researches have shown a connection between poor oral health and general health. According to Mayo Clinic, oral bacteria and inflammation may be associated with various diseases and conditions including:
- Endocarditis or inflammation of the lining of the heart
- Cardiovascular disease
- Pregnancy and birth complications
- Alzheimer’s disease
Protecting Your Oral Health
Prevention is always better than cure. Practice daily proper oral hygiene habits such as brushing, flossing, and limiting your sugar intake. Doing these makes it easier to avoid costly dental procedures and long-term health issues.
A visit to the dentist is not needed by most people unless they experience toothache, bleeding or swollen gums, clicking of the jaw, loose teeth, chronic bad breath, ulcers, sores, or tender areas in the mouth among others.
To prevent these symptoms, visit your dentist at least twice a year. Your dentist can spot potential issues and offer treatment solutions. And the best way to protect your oral health includes:
- Flouride treatment
- Fillings, crowns, and sealants
- Root canal
Knowing that poor oral health causes health issues, you now know why you should prioritize your oral health.