As a dentist, when we refer to oral health we’re not only talking about teeth. We’re talking about the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, the tongue, the lips, the chewing muscles, the jaw joint, and the salivary glands.
In 2000 the surgeon general message was that oral health is more than healthy teeth. Oral health is integral to general health and well-being. It means to be free of chronic oral facial conditions, oral cancers, oral soft tissue lesions, and dental caries.
It is estimated that oral disease affects nearly 3.5 billion people. An untreated dental caries in permanent teeth is the most common health condition, according to the global burden of the season 2017. 530 million children suffer from dental caries in the primary teeth severe periodontal disease which can lead to tooth loss affects 10 percent of the global population.
Our mouth is the entry point to the digestive tract and the respiratory tract a healthy mouth allows us to eat, speak, and socialize without pain and discomfort. When there are health problems it can interrupt our sleep, work, eating, and swallowing. It can also affect our productivity and social roles.
Health risk factors such as tobacco use and poor nutrition can affect our oral health and craniofacial health. Systemic diseases such as diabetes HIV infection and Sjogren’s disease may first become apparent in the mouth.
The mouth can also act as a place of entry for infection since it can allow the bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
Dental caries can result when plaque forms on the surface of the teeth and converts the free sugars containing foods and drinks into acids that can destroy the tooth over time.
Gum disease affects the tissues that both surround and support the tooth periodontal disease reveals itself by bleeding or swollen gums pain and sometimes bad breath. When periodontal disease is severe the gum comes away from the tooth and the supporting bone causing the teeth to become loose.
Oral cancers include lip and other parts of the mouth and oropharynx. The global incidence of cancers is estimated at four cases per 100,000 people it tends to be more common in men and older people but in the US in Europe human papillomavirus infections are responsible for a growing percentage of oral cancers among young people.
Around 20 percent of people suffer from trauma to the teeth at some point in their life treatment for dental trauma is costly and lengthy and sometimes can lead to tooth loss.
Cleft and lip palate affect more than 1 in 1,000 newborns worldwide. Genetic predisposition is a major cause and the condition is treated by surgery. With a multidisciplinary team a complete rehabilitation is possible.
The prevalence of temporal mandibular disorders is between five to twelve percent. This is a condition that results in pain in the joint located in front of the ear and the muscles in the area. The most common complaints associated with temporomandibular disorder include jaw ache, earache, headache, facial pain, and sometimes limited mouth opening. We can also experience noises coming from the jaw joints such as like clicking and popping. The dentist can be the first to identify this condition.
There are safe and effective measures to improve oral health and prevent disease. We can practice good oral health and hygiene daily by brushing our teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, eating a healthy diet, limiting the intake of added sugars, scheduling regular dental checkups and cleanings, and using sports guards when doing sports to reduce the risk of dental injuries.
If you notice that your gums bleed when brushing or flossing that you have swollen gums tender gums bad breath or tooth pain, see your dentist. Most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in the early stages.