Oral health is an important contributor to overall health and well-being. Oral health touches every aspect of our lives. Oral health means more than just healthy teeth- it includes the health of the gums, oral soft tissues, chewing muscles, the palate, tongue, lips and salivary glands. Good oral health enables an individual to speak, eat and socialize without active disease, discomfort or embarrassment. It is integral to general health and well-being.
We are amidst a global oral disease epidemic, and the statistics are startling: nearly 100 percent of adults have had cavities.
Oral disease is one of the most common public health issues worldwide with significant socio-economic impacts. Oral health is affected on a daily basis by various forms of oral diseases, mainly dental caries and periodontal disease, and occasionally by oral cancer, lesions in HIV/AIDS, mucosal and salivary gland diseases, and orofacial pain and clefts. These oral disorders are collectively the commonest chronic diseases in mankind with great impacts on vita functions, self-esteem, quality of life.
It is currently recognized that oral diseases are worldwide epidemic and a major public health problem.
The facts on Oral health are disturbing : based on WHO
- Worldwide, 60–90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities
- Globally, about 30% of people aged 65–74 have no natural teeth
- 16-40% of children in the age range 6 to12 years old are affected by dental trauma due to unsafe playgrounds, unsafe schools, road accidents, or violence
- In young children, there is a relationship between dental caries and childhood obesity
- Dental caries, also known as tooth decay or cavities, is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in humans
- Dental cavities and periodontal disease are major causes of tooth loss
- Birth defects such as cleft lip and palate occur in about one per 500–700 of all births.
- Severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 15–20% of middle-aged (35-44 years) adults
- Oral cancer is the eighth most common cancer globally
- Oral disease in children and adults is higher among poor and disadvantaged population groups
- Almost half (40–50%) of people who are HIV-positive have oral fungal, bacterial or viral infections
- Because of the high prevalence and recurrent cumulative nature of caries and periodontal disease, the mouth is among the most expensive parts of the body to treat in some countries such as Japan, Australia and Germany
- Several oral diseases are linked to non-communicable chronic diseases or conditions that share common risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease
- With the growing consumption of sugar in the developing world as a result of westernization, the levels of dental decay are likely to rise
Impact of lifestyle on Oral Health:
- Dietary habits are significant to the development of chronic diseases and influence the development of dental decay and dental erosion
- Poor oral hygiene habits lead to dental plaque including bacteria. Oral bacteria are involved in the progression of dental diseases such as dental decay and gum disease.
- Tobacco and alcohol increase the risk of oral cancer
- Performing sports and riding motor vehicles without any protective gear increases the risk of facial injuries
- Consuming acidic foods and beverages, such as sports and energy drinks, citrus fruits, wine, and tomatoes erode tooth enamel
Serious health conditions linked to Oral Health:
- Many studies have shown that poor oral hygiene in older adults is a major risk factor for aspiration pneumonia. The micro-organisms that cause pneumonia are commonly found in significantly high concentrations in the dental plaque of elderly people with gum disease
- There is also a link between gum disease and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Scientists believe that inflammation caused by Oral disease may be responsible for this association.
- People with diabetes have a higher susceptibility to contracting infections, and so are at greater risk of developing gum disease. Conversely, oral infections can increase the severity of diabetes by increasing blood sugar levels.
- Poor oral health in pregnancy may contribute to premature delivery and/or low birth weight in the newborn baby. Also evidence suggests that most infants and young children acquire caries-causing bacteria from their mothers.
- Researchers have discovered that the management of gum disease with cleanings and antibiotics also has a beneficial effect on the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Flourides for dental care:
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. It also reverses early decay. In children under 6 years of age, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth, making it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both children and adults.
- Fluoridated drinking water
- Salt fluoridation
- Milk fluoridation
- Mouth rinse
- Professionally applied fluorides
- Fluoridated toothpaste
A word of caution: There has been studies proving the role of fluorides in brain damage. Harvard published a paper in 2013, which stated that fluoride may be a developmental neurotoxicant that affects brain development.
Select appropriate toothbrush:
Adults should choose a small- to medium-sized brush head. This should have soft to medium, multi-tufted, round-ended nylon bristles or ‘filaments’. The head should be small enough to reach into all parts of the mouth, especially the back of the mouth where it can be difficult to reach. Children need to use smaller brushes but with the same type of filaments.
Good oral hygiene for you :
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Cleaning between your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner
- A mouth rinse, in addition to daily brushing and flossing, can increase the cleanliness of your mouth
- Replacing your toothbrush every three or four months
- Eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks
- Rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and beverages and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing
- To effectively reach all areas and scrub off cavity-causing bacteria, it is recommended to brush for two to three minutes
- Electric toothbrushes are recommended for people who have limited manual agility, such as a disabled or elderly person and those who wear braces
- Don’t forget to schedule regular dental check-ups to keep your smile, and yourself, healthy