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Oral Health: Oral diseases and You

by Dr. Blessing Iyioku,

Oral health as defined by the World Health Organisation is the state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking and psycho-social well being. Oral health touches every aspect of our lives but it is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can reveal signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus may first become apparent because of mouth lesions and other oral diseases. HO is the state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking and psychosocial wellbeing. Oral health touches every aspect of our lives but it is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can reveal signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus may first become apparent because of mouth lesions and other oral diseases. defined by WHO is the state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking and psychosocial wellbeing. Oral health touches every aspect of our lives but it is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can reveal signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus may first become apparent because of mouth lesions and other oral diseases.

Despite great achievements in oral health of populations globally, the burden of oral diseases still remains a problem in many communities all over the World, particularly among under-privileged groups in developed and underdeveloped Countries (WHO, 2020).

The Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 estimated that oral diseases affect 3.5 billion people worldwide, with untreated caries being among the most prevalent non-communicable diseases (WHO 2020). Since most oral diseases are non-communicable, emphasis must be made on primordial and primary prevention strategies so as to reduce the burden of oral diseases globally.

Photo credit: Canva

TYPES OF ORAL DISEASES:

The most frequent oral diseases are:
• Dental caries (cavities);
• Periodontal (gum) disease;
• Oral cancer;
• Oral infectious diseases;
• Trauma from injuries; and
• Hereditary lesions.

CAUSES:

The oral cavity collects all sorts of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Some of them belong there, making up the normal flora of the mouth. They are generally harmless in small quantities. However, frequent consumption of diets high in sugar creates conditions in which acid-producing bacteria can flourish. This acid dissolves tooth enamel and causes dental cavities. Also, bacteria near the gumline thrive in a sticky matrix called plaque. Plaque accumulates, hardens and migrates down the length of the tooth if it isn’t removed regularly by brushing and flossing. This can inflame the gums and cause gingivitis.

Photo credit: Canva

SYMPTOMS:

Common symptoms of oral diseases include:
• Toothache
• Bleeding or swollen gums after brushing or flossing
• Chronic bad breath
• Sudden sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures or beverages
• Ulcers, sores in the mouth that won’t heal after a week or two
• Loose teeth
• Pain with chewing or biting
• Receding gums
• Swelling of the face and cheek
• Clicking of the jaw
• Frequent dry mouth etc

DIAGNOSIS:

You shouldn’t wait until you have symptoms before visiting a Dentist. Scheduling appointments with your Dentist twice a year gives room for prompt diagnosis of slight alteration in the teeth and other oral tissues before the initiation of symptoms.

Most dental and oral diseases can be diagnosed during a dental examination, in which case, your Dentist inspects your teeth and other oral tissues with the aid of a dental mirror and probe. Dental radiographs can be requested to make a definitive diagnosis.

TREATMENT:

Twice yearly scaling and polishing is mandated for all, which makes up part of your routine dental check up. Your Dentist will further recommend appropriate treatment measures for established oral diseases. Complications of oral diseases can be life-threatening.

PREVENTION:

The best ways to prevent oral diseases include:
• Brushing your teeth with fluoride containing toothpaste at least twice a day;
• Floss after meals (DON’T USE TOOTHPICKS!);
• Schedule regular appointments with your Dentist, at least twice a year;
• Avoid tobacco products;
• Limit intake of refined carbohydrates and carbonated drinks;
• Ask questions from your Dentist when in doubts.

Medical Disclaimer: KompleteCare™ aims to improve the quality of life for everyone with fact-based content about the nature of diseases, preventive care, behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


Dr. Blessing Iyioku,

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