Oral health contributes both to the general health of the body and maintaining an emotional balance. Poor oral hygiene can cause cavities, gum disease and has also been associated with heart diseases, cancer and diabetes.
Maintaining good oral health should be one of your constant new year resolutions and a commitment for a lifetime. If you conscientiously apply good oral hygiene practices (such as proper brushing of the mouth, flossing and limiting sugar), you will avoid costly dental procedures and long-term health problems.
What you need to know about oral health
Cavities and gum disease are very common. According to the World Health Organization:
- between 60 and 90% of schoolchildren have at least one cavity;
- almost 100% of adults have at least one cavity;
- between 15 and 20% of adults aged between 35 and 44 years suffer from severe gum disease;
- about 30% of people around the world, between the ages of 65 and 74, no longer have natural teeth;
- in most countries, out of every 100,000 people, there are between 1 and 10 cases of oral cancer.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can maintain your oral health. For example, oral conditions can be prevented by:
- brushing the oral cavity at least twice a day, using a fluoride paste;
- flossing at least once a day;
- limiting sugar;
- eating fruits and vegetables;
- avoiding tobacco;
- fluoridated water consumption;
- regular visits to the dentist.
Most frequent symptoms of dental problems
We recommend not to postpone the visit to the dentist until the onset of symptoms. Two consultations a year are enough to detect a problem in the oral cavity, before symptoms appear.
If you experience one or more of the following signs that may indicate oral health problems, make an appointment with your dentist in Victoria, as soon as possible:
- ulcers or wounds of the oral cavity that do not heal in a week or two;
- bleeding or swelling of the gums after brushing or flossing;
- bad breath;
- sudden sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures;
- moving teeth;
- retracted gums;
- pain in chewing;
- swelling of the face;
- noise when opening/closing the mouth (during the chewing process);
- cracked or broken teeth;
- dryness of the oral cavity.
If the symptoms you experience are accompanied by fever and swelling in the face or throat, we recommend that you immediately call a dentist.
Causes of the most common diseases of the oral cavity
The oral cavity collects all kinds of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Some of them are part of the flora of the oral cavity. In small quantities, they are generally harmless. But a high-sugar diet creates conditions in which acid-producing bacteria can multiply uncontrollably. This acid dissolves tooth enamel and causes cavities.
Bacteria near the gums grow into a sticky mass called plaque. If it is not removed by brushing and flossing, plaque builds up, hardens and migrates along the length of the teeth. This can lead to inflammation of the gums and can cause a condition known as gingivitis.
The inflammation causes the gums to begin to retract, gradually moving away from the teeth. This process creates pockets that can collect pus. Here we are talking about an advanced stage of gum disease, which is called periodontitis or periodontal disease.
There are a number of factors that contribute to gingivitis and periodontitis, such as:
- insufficient and/or incorrect tooth brushing;
- a high-sugar diet;
- use of drugs that reduce the amount of saliva in the oral cavity;
- family history or genetic background;
- certain infections, such as HIV or AIDS;
- hormonal changes that take place in women’s bodies;
- gastroesophageal reflux and heartburn;
- frequent vomiting due to acid.
Most common dental conditions
Even if you take proper care of your oral cavity, you will experience, at least once in your life, an oral health problem.
They are areas of the tooth that have been permanently damaged. These occur when bacteria, food and acid cover the teeth and form plaque. The acid on the surface of the teeth will begin to degrade the enamel and dentin and may even reach the connective tissue.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums and usually occurs as a result of a large amount of plaque on the surface of the teeth. This is due to poor oral hygiene. Most often, people with gingivitis notice that their gums become inflamed and bleed during brushing and flossing. Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more serious infection.
As periodontitis progresses, the infection can spread to the jaw and bones. The condition can also cause an inflammatory response throughout the body.
Teeth with cracks or fractures
A tooth can crack or break as a result of an accident, during chewing or when we grit our teeth. Cracked or broken teeth can be very painful and dangerous, so it is recommended to consult a dentist as soon as you notice such a problem.
If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, you will feel pain or discomfort when eating hot and cold food or drinks. This condition can be temporary, caused by a canal filling or the application of a filling, or caused by factors such as gum disease, cracked or broken teeth, withdrawn gums etc. Dental sensitivity can also be permanent, especially in people with thin enamel.
The dentist is usually the first specialist to recognize oral cancer. The use of tobacco products poses the greatest risk of developing this type of cancer.
The link between oral health and general health
It seems that good oral health can help maintain optimal overall health. Inflammation and bacteria in the oral cavity can be associated with:
- heart disease;
- endocarditis or inflammation of the heart lining;
- premature birth;
- low birth weight.
Treatment of dental diseases
Impeccable oral hygiene includes two annual visits to the dentist, during which the doctor will perform a professional cleaning and, if there are dental problems, will recommend the right procedure. Therefore, the most common dental treatments include:
Maintaining optimal oral health
Oral health does not only affect the oral cavity. Poor oral hygiene can contribute to problems with self-esteem, pronunciation and nutrition. Comfort and quality of life will therefore be affected. It is good to know that many oral conditions develop without symptoms. Therefore, regular visits to the dentist are the best way to detect a problem before it gets worse.