Oral health conditions are largely preventable, but they affect an estimated 3.5 billion people because many countries with low or middling incomes do not have sufficient dental health services. On the other hand, even countries where dental care is readily available and accessible still see rampant oral health issues affecting people of all ages and walks of life. This represents a major health burden and drain on quality of life that results in discomfort, pain, disfigurement, and possibly death. Here are some common oral health conditions and what can be done to prevent or treat them.
Untreated tooth decay is actually the most common health condition in the world. The human mouth has a large population of bacteria that consume the sugar present in many foods and beverages. After these bacteria eat it, they produce acid as a byproduct, which is one of the worst things for dental health. As it accumulates, this acid breaks down enamel, resulting in cavities that allow bacteria to destroy even more of the tooth. This results in toothache, tooth loss, and potentially fatal secondary infections in other parts of the body.
The same bacteria that cause tooth decay are also a threat to the gums. Without proper hygiene, a patient will eventually develop gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums with symptoms like red, bleeding, or swollen gums, pain, or bad breath. If gingivitis goes untreated, the infection will work its way deeper into the gum tissue, resulting in periodontal disease that can cause tooth loss and erosion of the jawbone while also carrying the risk of potentially lethal secondary infections.
Edentulism is the loss of all teeth in the mouth. It typically results from a lifetime of inadequate dental care, but it can also result from injury. It’s estimated that 7% of young adults and around 23% of seniors have lost all of their teeth due to edentulism. This condition greatly limits chewing ability, is psychologically damaging, and can hinder social efforts.
How Can These Conditions Be Prevented?
The first line of defense against these oral ailments is daily oral hygiene. This includes brushing teeth twice a day or after meals (while always waiting at least thirty minutes after eating), flossing, and using antibacterial mouthwash. People should also be sure to wear an athletic mouthguard while playing sports or riding a bicycle.
Cutting out some bad behaviors can eliminate much of the risk of developing these conditions. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and a diet high in sugar and low in water are all detrimental to dental health. The sooner you drop these habits, the better.
The finishing touch to this multi-layered protective barrier is regular dental visits. Your dentist is trained to catch small problems before they become big ones like those listed here. By taking these precautions, you can keep your teeth healthy.
About the Practice
Columbia Healthy Smiles provides high-quality dental services to the community of Columbia, MO. Drs. Philip A. Batson and Elizabeth Abe lead the skilled staff on a mission to provide effective dentistry with the latest methods in a comfortable, welcoming environment. Services include preventive, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry. For more information on preventing these and other oral health conditions, contact the office online or dial (573) 875-7071.