Dental and oral health touches every aspect of our lives but is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems.
Oral health refers to the health of the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue and lips and associated structures. Understanding oral structure and function is a useful starting point for the consideration of factors affecting the mouth and oral health.
Oral health is achieved when the teeth and oral environment are not only healthy but also:
.comfortable and functional, that is food can be chewed thoroughly and without pain or discomfort and the teeth are not sensitive to different stimuli such as cold
.social acceptability is also of importance and the mouth must not give rise to bad breath, the appearance of the teeth and gums should be acceptable and not give rise to embarrassment
.free from sources of infection which may affect general health, that is, good oral hygiene should be maintained to minimize the risk of oral infections which may adversely impact on general health
Take care of your teeth and gums
Brush you teeth twice a day: brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for about two minutes can prevent gum disease and tooth decay, which are the two most common oral diseases worldwide. Plaque is a film of bacteria that coats your teeth if you don’t brush them properly. Tooth brushing stops plaque building up.
Children need to be helped or supervised brushing their teeth until they’re at least seven years old. Rinsing and use of mouthwash is not recommend straight after toothbrushing as it will wash away the concentrated fluoride in the remaining toothpaste, thus diluting it and reducing its preventive effects.
A visit to your dentist will provide with more information on what type of toothbrush and toothpaste you can choose based on your own dental health and needs.
Floss between your teeth: flossing isn’t just for dislodging food wedged between your teeth. Regular flossing may also reduce gum disease and bad breath by removing plaque that forms along the gum line. It is best to floss before toothbrushing.
You can also use interdental brush or single-tufted brushes instead of flossing, especially if there are gaps between your teeth. The brush should fit snugly between the teeth.
Cut down on sweet and other lifestyle tips: having a healthy lifestyle, including eating well, not smoking and limiting your alcohol and sugar intake. It’s good for your whole body, including you teeth, gums and mouth.
You may assume you should have a dental check-up every six months, but some people may not need to go so often and others may need more frequent checks.
Your dentist will suggest when you should have your next check-up based on how good your oral health is. The time between check-ups can vary from three months to two years, depending on how healthy your teeth and gums are and your risk of future problems.
Types of dental diseases
Effective and proper care of the mouth is highly crucial to a person’s general wellness and overall appearance.
In addition, untreated oral disease can lead to gum problems, tooth loss and many other teeth problems and dental issues.
It is believed that there could be a connection between oral disease and stroke, low birth weight, heart disease, premature births and diabetes.
Dental diseases are usually categorized into three primary categories
Diseases of the teeth-such as cavities and tooth decay. The latter typically takes place when plaque is allowed to linger on the tooth’s surface for a long period of time. As what we commonly know, plaque pertains to a gluey substance which contains bacteria that feed on the sugars people consume.
This is normally formed in the mouth. These bacteria produce acid which can be absorbed through the tooth’s surface and this eventually leads to the formation of cavities.
Periodontal or Gum diseases-The first phase is referred to as gingivitis. As with cavities and tooth decay, this condition is caused by bacteria in plaque which infect the gums through producing acid.
Moreover, some of the indications of gingivitis consist of puffy and swollen gums, persistent foul smelling breath and also bleeding when you floss or brush. However, gingivitis is considered as a reversible condition which can be possibly treated with professional care as well as proper oral hygiene.
When left untreated, this condition may develop into a severe type of dental disease called periodontal disease. This may impair the support system which backs up the teeth in place and may also erode the gum line that surrounds the teeth.
As time passes by, periodontal disease may even lead to tooth loss. Unlike gingivitis, the damage caused by periodontal disease is irreversible and permanent.
Furthermore, gum disease and tooth decay can be averted with the aid of regular dental examinations and treatments and of course proper oral hygiene.
Oral cancers-this may significantly affect any part of the mouth and throat like cheeks, lips, gums, tongues, and larynx. Signs and symptoms may consist of a sore which does not heal even for a long period of time, bleeding, sore throat, thickening in the neck, white or red patches located in the mouth or a lump.
It is advisable to consult a health care professional at once if any of the mentioned symptoms are encountered for the last couple of weeks.
Bridges: a bridge is a fixed replacement for a missing tooth or teeth. It’s made by taking an impression of the surrounding teeth, which will eventually support the bridge. A bridge is usually created from precious metal and porcelain and will be fixed in your mouth(unlike dentures, which can be removed).
Crowns: a crown is a type of cap that completely covers a real tooth. It’s made from either metal, or porcelain and metal, and is fixed in you mouth. Crowns can be fitted where a tooth has broken, decayed or been damaged, or just to make a tooth look better. To fit a crown, the tooth needs to be drilled down.
Fillings: they are used to repair a hole in a tooth caused by decay. The most common type of filling is an amalgam, made from a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin, copper and zinc. Your dentist will offer the most appropriate type of filling according to your clinical needs. This includes while fillings, if appropriate.
Root canal treatment, also called endodontics, it tackles infection at the center of a tooth( the root canal system).
When the blood or nerve supply of the tooth has become infected, if root canal treatment is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.
During treatment, all the infection is removed from inside the root canal system and filled, then tooth is sealed with a filling or crown to stop it from becoming infected again.
Scale and polish:This is when your teeth are professionally cleaned by the hygienist. It involves carefully removing the deposits that build up on the teeth(tartar).
Braces: they straighten or move teeth to improve the appearance of the teeth and how they work.
Braces can be removable, so you can take them out and clean them, or fixed, so they’re stuck to your teeth and you can’t take them out.
They can be made of metal, plastic or ceramic. Invisible braces are made of a clear plastic.
Wisdom tooth removal: the wisdom teeth grow at the back of your gums and are the last teeth to come through, usually in your late teens or early twenties. Most people have four wisdom teeth, one in each corner.
Wisdom teeth can sometimes emerge at an angle or get stuck and only emerge partially. Wisdom teeth that grow through in this way are known as impacted.
Dental implants: implants are a fixed alternative to removable dentures. They may be the only option if the loss of teeth has caused the mouth to shrink so that it can no longer support dentures. You can use implants to replace just a single tooth or several teeth.
To fit an implant, titanium screws are drilled into the jaw bone to support a crown, bridge or denture.
Replacement parts take time to prepare. This is to ensure that they fit your mouth and other teeth properly. Therefore, they may not be available on your first visit to the dentist.
Dentures or false teeth: more commonly known as false teeth, dentures are fitted in place of natural teeth. A full set is used to replace all your teeth. A part set is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Dentures are custom-made using impressions(moldings) from your gums. They’re usually made from metal or plastic.
They’re removable so you can clean them, although part dentures can be brushed at the same time as your other teeth. A full set needs to be removed and soaked in a cleaning solution.
Broken or knocked out tooth: it’s common to break, chip or know out a tooth.
If the tooth is just chipped, make a non-emergency dental appointment to have it smoothed down and filled, or to have a crown.
If the tooth has been knocked out or is badly broken, see a dentist immediately. Your dentist may fit a denture or bridge. If you need an implant, you’ll be referred to a dental hospital.
Teeth whitening:Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth to make them a lighter color. Teeth whitening can’t make your teeth brilliant white, but it can lighten the existing color by several shades.
Standard teeth whitening involves several visits to the dentist plus sessions at home wearing a mouth guard containing bleaching gel. The whole process takes a couple of months.
A newer procedure called laser whitening or power whitening is done at the dentist’s surgery and takes about an hour.
Dental veneers: veneers are new facings for teeth which disguise a discolored( rather than a damaged) tooth. To fit a veneer, the front of the tooth is drilled away a little. An impression is taken, and a thin layer of porcelain is fitted over the front of the tooth.
The above article serves only as reference. Kindly refer to your primary care provider for complete consultation and treatment.
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