World Oral Health Day is celebrated every year on 20 March. It is an international day to celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of the issues around oral health.
Common oral health problems
People from all over the world and across all age groups suffer from common dental problems. Here are a few common oral health problems:
1. Cavities/Tooth Decay
Cavities are permanently damaged areas in or around the surface of your tooth that cause tiny holes. This one of the most common dental problems and can happen even to infants. They are caused by plaque from food high in sugar or starch content settling on the surface of the teeth. Bacteria inside your mouth feed on sugar and starch thus leading to the protective coat of your teeth (enamel) to slowly deteriorate. This then leads to tooth decay which will most likely need fillings.
2. Gum Disease
Gum disease is one of the most common dental diseases adults get. It has three developing stages starting from gingivitis. Gingivitis is a gum disease that is reversible but, if not treated on time it may lead to a more serious problem call periodontal disease. Periodontal disease must be treated as soon as possible as it may also lead to tooth loss.
3. Bad Breath
Nothing is more embarrassing than bad breath. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common oral problem across all ages. Studies show about 85% of people with bad breath are suffering some other dental problem that is to blame. Bad breath is a common symptom of gum disease, cavities or oral cancer.
4. Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is also called xerostomia. This is a condition where saliva glands are not able to produce enough saliva to keep the inside of the mouth moist. Saliva has antibacterial components that help keep plaque off of teeth surface. It is caused by several things such as smoking, prescription medication, aging or stress. People who are on medication or chemotherapy are at very high risk of dry mouth.
5. Tooth Crowding
Tooth crowding isn’t only an aesthetic dental problem. It can cause alignment issues that eventually can cause a jaw disorder. Misaligned bites can cause jaw problems that might need surgery to fix. Braces are the best option to treat crowded teeth. Depending on the crowding, orthodontists might even suggest extraction to make room for teeth to shift.
6. Root Infection
If you’ve heard of or tried a root canal treatment, then you know a root infection is a serious problem. It’s painful and very uncomfortable. Root infection occurs when bacteria infect the root part of your tooth. It enters the centre of your tooth and attacks the pulp tissue inside. If left untreated it may eventually develop into an abscess. A root canal procedure is highly recommended.
7. Tooth Loss
Many of the above mentioned dental problems can lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease eventually leads to this if not treated immediately. Tooth decay can also lead to extraction if the tooth can no longer be saved. The same goes for root infections. Dentures or dental implants are recommended for tooth loss.
8. Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is the deadliest dental problem one can encounter. It starts with a small pinkish growth in the mouth. It’s unlikely to be noticed since our mouths don’t innately have smooth surfaces and are naturally pink or reddish in color. A regular visit to the dentist will help detect this who may advice further investigation.
Here are the top oral hygiene tips to follow:
- Brush twice a day: Brush your teeth once in the morning and then at night. Brushing your teeth at night helps thoroughly clean all the food particles, plaque, and germs from your teeth and gums and helps prevent cavities.
- Do not forget to floss once a day, every day: Flossing is as important as brushing. Flossing helps you get rid of plaque more thoroughly as the flossing thread goes deep within the gaps between your teeth, something that your toothbrush is not able to do. This will prevent the build-up of bacteria and hence cavities.
- Clean your tongue: You cannot ignore your tongue. Get a copper tongue scraper to thoroughly clean the surface of your tongue. Your tongue contains a lot of bacteria that need to be removed frequently. If you don’t do this, you could suffer from gingivitis, bad breath, cavities, and even gum disease.
- Use mouthwash regularly: Many don’t believe in using mouthwashes. A mouth wash will thoroughly cleanse your mouth.
- Schedule regular visits to the dentist: It is necessary to get your teeth checked by a dentist regularly. That’s why a visit to the dentist every six months is highly recommended. Scaling or deep cleaning your teeth about twice a year is essential to remove plaque build-up.
- Change your toothbrush every 3-4 months: Or when the bristles of the brush develop frayed ends. Your brush can harbour bacteria too. For effective cleaning, replace your toothbrush regularly.
Do you make these oral hygiene mistakes?
Here are some of the most common oral hygiene mistakes people make:
- Brushing your teeth only in the morning.
- Brushing your teeth too hard.
- Not spending enough time brushing.
- Replacing flossing with mouth wash.
- Drinking a sugary beverage at lunch.
- Only seeing the dentist when you’re in pain.
- Not gargling after having tea or coffee.
- Using your tooth as a bottle opener.
Dental problems can be prevented and completely avoided if you be responsible for your oral health. Keeping your oral health up by staying away from food that contributes to plaque build-up is also a step in taking care of your fitness. For any tooth or gum problems consult a dentist immediately. Prevention is better than cure. Please find our Department of Dental Surgery for more details.