The standard practice of maintaining oral health involves brushing and flossing after meals. You could also add visiting your dentist twice a year and avoiding sugar as much as possible to those habits. So long as you keep these practices in place, you (and your dental practitioner) can address any dental problem before they happen – or worsen.
Unfortunately, lots of people make the mistake of seeking care only when they feel something. Why? They assume that a bright smile and fresh breath equal optimum mouth health. However, it isn’t often the case since issues can hide under whitened teeth and antiseptic rinses. It’s important to understand what oral health entails and what steps you can take to resolve any issues.
What Constitutes Good Oral Health?
Oral health refers to the condition of the teeth, mouth, and other orofacial structures. These parts allow you to perform essential functions like eating, breathing, and speaking. Indirectly, it also encompasses psychosocial aspects like social health and self-confidence. Your oral cavity evolves during different phases in life, from childhood to old age. However, with proper hygiene practices, you can avoid any significant issues.
How Does Poor Oral Health Impact General Health?
But why is dental wellbeing crucial? How does poor oral health impact your general wellness? Recent studies suggest that inadequate mouth health is connected to various health conditions and vice versa. For example, the following conditions are often associated with oral bacteria and inflammation:
- Heart problems – include myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack.
- Premature birth (for pregnant women) – when the infant is delivered before full term, or at least 37 weeks.
- Low birth weight – the weight of the infant upon birth, typically below five pounds and eight ounces
- Endocarditis – the inflammation of the endocardium or the heart’s lining.
What are the signs and symptoms of poor oral health?
Poor oral health often comes with a host of indicators. Some of the most common ones, many tend to dismiss as trivial. Unresolved, they can lead to more serious conditions in the future. Don’t let it worsen. Here’s what you need to look out for:
- Sores and ulcers – mouth wounds that haven’t healed in over two weeks.
- Bleeding or swollen gums – could be a sign of periodontal gum disease or gingivitis.
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis) – from bacteria that accumulate in your mouth and throat.
- Toothache – an intensive, chronic pain in one or more teeth.
- Sudden sensitivity – any sharp pain from drinking hot or cold liquids or consuming hard foods.
- Tooth loss – occurs when poor health practices lead to tooth decay or gum disease.
- Receding gums – when the gums pull away from the teeth, exposing the base.
- Dry mouth – commonly caused by certain medications and not just because of dehydration.
- Swollen face or cheek – can indicate a minor infection in the mouth due to poor oral hygiene.
- Pain when chewing or biting – could be caused by a fractured tooth, tooth decay, gum disease, or a bad filling.
What Causes Oral Diseases?
Mouth diseases are mainly a result of bacteria left behind due to poor teeth-cleaning habits. The bacteria can form plaque, leading to tartar and tooth decay.
Other factors that may lead to dental-health problems include:
- Poor nutrition
- Presence of other medical conditions
- Poor hydration
- Use of illicit drugs
How Do You Fix Poor Oral Health?
Prevention is always better than cure – this applies to oral health. Practising good dental hygiene is critical to avoiding dental problems. Adhering to these habits ensures your mouth issues do not worsen.
Cleanings are an effective way for dentists and hygienists to assess your overall oral health. Professional cleaning rids the mouth of plaque you missed while brushing and flossing. Besides inspecting for signs of oral diseases, treatment includes scaling or the removal of tartar buildup.
Fillings, crowns, and sealants
Dental fillings or sealants can address cavities, fractures, and chips in your teeth. Dental crowns can repair broken teeth, restore decayed teeth, and improve aesthetics.
Individuals with severe tooth infections typically undergo a root canal procedure. Root canal treatments involve removing the nerve of a decaying tooth and filling it. The filling material is usually a combination of gutta-percha and adhesive cement. When done properly by a professional, the procedure should eliminate pain and sensitivity.
Dentists can prescribe antibiotic treatment to reduce infections when over-the-counter medication doesn’t work. Antibiotics can take the form of oral tablets, gel, or mouth rinse.
Fluoride treatments protect your teeth from cavities. They are usually delivered as gel, foam, or varnish at the dentist’s office. Fluoride application is straightforward and painless. It strengthens teeth enamel, making it resilient to bacteria and acid. Most modern toothpaste brands also include fluoride in their formulas.
Braces and aligners
Overlapping teeth give food particles and bacteria room to hide and thrive. Brushing and flossing become an ordeal, making you more prone to bad breath, plaque, and cavities. Spare yourself by consulting your dentist for an ideal solution. Perhaps they would recommend aligners, such as ClearCorrect. ClearCorrect has three layers that team to realign teeth gently while promising comfort, from insertion through treatment.
Oral health impacts more than just your teeth. Improper dental hygiene can affect your self-esteem, speech, and overall quality of life. So, brush up on your toothbrushing and flossing, and schedule that long-awaited dental appointment. These habits are worth it!
Sudhakara, P., Gupta, A., Bhardwaj, A., & Wilson, A. (2018). Oral Dysbiotic Communities and Their Implications in Systemic Diseases. Dentistry Journal, 6(2), 10.