Oral and Dental hygiene is an essential part of your overall health. Poor dental hygiene can result in cavities and gum disease and has been linked with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Maintaining healthy gums and teeth is a long-term commitment. The earlier you learn oral hygiene habits (such as flossing, brushing, and limiting sugar intake), the easier it is to avoid future dental treatment and health problems.
The connection between oral health and general health
- Oral health has become increasingly important in recent years, as studies have revealed a link between – oral health and underlying clinical conditions. Oral and inflammatory bacteria may relate to heart disease, premature birth, endocarditis, or inflammation of the lining of the heart, or low birth weight. Bacteria can spread to your bloodstream from your oral cavity, causing infective endocarditis. Infective endocarditis is a life-threatening heart valve infection. Your dentist may suggest that you take antibiotics as a preventive measure before doing any dental procedure that might dislodge bacteria in your mouth.
Causes of dental and oral diseases
The oral cavity contains all kinds of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Many of them are part of it, and they are harmless in small quantities. But a high-sugar diet produces situations in which acid-producing bacteria can grow. Such acid dissolves dental enamel and induces oral cavities. Bacteria near the gumline grow in a sticky matrix called plaque. Plaque builds up, thickens, and migrates down the length of your tooth until it is regularly removed by brushing and flossing. This may inflame your gums and trigger a condition called gingivitis. Excessive inflammation causes your gums to begin to pull away from your teeth. This process creates space in which pus can gradually collect. The moderate stage of gum disease is termed periodontitis.
Several factors lead to gingivitis and periodontitis, including:
- Poor brushing habits
- Generic factors
- Hormonal changes
- Medicine intake which reduces the saliva in the mouth.
- Extreme use of sugary food and cold drinks.
Symptoms of oral and dental problems
You’re not supposed to wait until you get a sign to visit the dentist. Going to the dentist twice a year will allow them to spot an issue before you even have the symptoms. If you have any of the below signs of oral health complications, you should book an appointment to see the dentist as early as possible.
- Swelling or bleeding of gums during flossing or brushing.
- Sores, ulcers, or tender areas in the mouth that do not recover after a week or more.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold drinks/food.
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Frequent dry mouth
- The clicking of the jaw
- Lockjaw or tight jaw
- Pain or toothache with chewing or biting.
If any of these signs are followed by high fever and swelling of the face or neck, then you must seek medical treatment.
Diagnosing dental and oral diseases
Most oral and dental disorders can be detected during a dental test. During the test, your dentist will carefully check the teeth, throat, tongue, mouth, jaw, and cheeks. Your dentist may tap your teeth with different tools to help to diagnose your teeth. The dentist’s technician can take dental X-rays from your mouth, ensuring to get an image of each of the teeth. To measure your gum pockets, your dentist may use a tool called a probe. This ruler will tell your dentist if you are having gum disease or receding gums. In a healthy mouth, the pocket size between the teeth is between 1 and 3 millimeters (mm). Any higher measurement than this can mean you have gum disease.
- If your dentist detects in your mouth any unusual lumps, cysts, or growths, they can do a gum biopsy. A small piece of tissue is removed from growth or lesion during a biopsy. The sample shall then be sent to a laboratory for examination to test for cancerous cells. If your dentist suspects oral cancer, he might also order imaging tests to see if cancer has spread. Tests may include an MRI scan, CT scan, endoscopy, X-rays.
There are several steps you can take to maintain oral health.
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Flossing your teeth regularly
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Avoid tobacco, pan masala, and Gutkha
- Drink more water
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
- Decrease sugar intake in your food
When you experience an oral health problem, contact your dentist immediately. Keeping oral health care is an investment in your overall health.