Oral care doesn’t just keep your teeth strong; it can have a significant effect on your general wellness, too. The most common oral diseases are:
Very few patients escape dental cavities, which the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that caries affects 3.5 billion people globally. Caries are caused mainly by the buildup of plaque on teeth, which produces an acid that destroys the tooth enamel. You can avoid this by brushing and flossing daily, and booking dental checkups to remove this bacteria before it hardens into tartar – which you can’t remove on your own. The typical treatment for cavities are fillings, but if a tooth is badly destroyed your dentist may opt to remove or cover it with a dental crown.
Several forms of gum disease can occur in adults, and their severity ranges from mildly swollen, to bleeding gums to complete tooth loss. Most gum disease begins with gingivitis caused by plaque irritating the soft tissues along the gumline, which gradually gets worse as the bacteria increases. This causes the gums to recede from the teeth and may result in tooth loss or further gum infection requiring antibiotic treatment.
If your dentist finds your gum disease has progressed to this stage he or she may recommend root planing and scaling more frequently, professional cleaning treatment to remove all plaque from your mouth. During a scaling, the practitioner scrapes plaque and tartar from the teeth both above and below the gumline. This is followed by smoothing the rough spots on the root of the tooth where bacteria accumulates.
The most well known of the infectious oral diseases is oral herpes, which occurs in patients who have been exposed to the herpes simplex virus. These conditions often cause cold sores and fever blisters to develop on the lips, under the tongue and in the soft tissues inside your cheeks – and can be quite contagious when in contact with others. If you take action in the early stages of a cold sore, antiviral medication can prevent them from developing fully.
Although not actually a disease, WHO estimates up to 40 per cent of children worldwide experience injuries to their mouths as a result of unsafe conditions, accidents and violence. Your best bet for preventing injuries during sports is to wear a mouthguard, but in the event of an unexpected injury off the field, get medical care as early as possible.
Cancers of the mouth or throat are seen in 45,000 Americans each year, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Regular dental checks are the most important method of detecting them because they often don’t produce clear signs and symptoms in their early stages.
Some oral diseases are can be preventable by practising good oral hygiene, but those who carry one can still thrive on regular dental screenings that ensure they stay healthy from one visit to the next.