Medical Awareness >>   Oral Health

Oral Health

Oral health is a key indicator of overall health, well-being and quality of life. It encompasses a range of diseases and conditions that include dental caries, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, oro-dental trauma, noma and birth defects such as cleft lip and palate. Most oral diseases and conditions share modifiable risk factors with the leading non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes). These risk factors include tobacco use, alcohol consumption and unhealthy diets high in free sugars, all of which are increasing at the global level. There is a proven relationship between oral and general health. It is reported, for example, that diabetes is linked with the development and progression of periodontitis. Moreover, there is a causal link between high consumption of sugars and diabetes, obesity and dental caries. The majority of cases are dental caries (tooth decay), periodontal diseases, oral cancers, oro-dental trauma, cleft lip and palate, and noma (severe gangrene disease starting in the mouth mostly affecting children).

Introduction to oral disease, their source and treatment -

  • Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping one's mouth clean and free of disease and other problems by regular brushing of the teeth and cleaning between the teeth. It is important that oral hygiene be carried out on a regular basis to enable prevention of dental disease and bad breath. Most common cases in a dental hygiene practice are tooth decay or caries, gingivitis and periodontics.
  • Caries is the most common global disease with over 80% of cavities occurring inside fissures of teeth where toothbrush cannot reach properly and food gets trapped easily and saliva and fluoride have no access to neutralize acid to remineralize the decayed teeth. Treatment is a regular teeth cleaning procedure called scaling where the removal of dental plaque and tartar is done from teeth regularly at the dental clinic by a trained dentist to prevent cavities, tooth decay, gingivitis, gum disease. 
  • Severe gum disease leads to 1/3rd of adult tooth loss. For more complicated oral diseases, complicated treatment procedures are carried out by the dentist. Plaque and tartar can be removed from teeth by tooth brushing, tooth flossing, using fluoride toothpaste. Also dental sealants are applied by dentists to protect tooth fissures from cavities. 
  • Plaque and calculus is the source of all oral disease mostly. Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria on tooth surfaces and around the gum line called a dental biofilm. Calculus is the hard plaque that has stayed on tooth surfaces for a long time. Routine proper tooth brushing is the principal method to prevent many oral diseases, and reduce plaque build-up and also does not allow it to change to calculus. Two types of toothbrushes are available in market –
  • Manual toothbrush
  • Electronic toothbrush 
  • From the interdental surfaces of teeth, plaque can be removed by tooth flossing. Three types of floss are available in market-
  • Waxed floss
  • Unwaxed floss
  • Teflon floss 
  • More effective than floss is interdental brushes available in the market that reduce plaque from interdental surfaces and reduce gum inflammation. 
  • Tongue scrapers and oral irrigators are used to remove debris from tongue and other mouth parts. 
  • Single –tuft brushes, gum stimulators and oral swabs are some other options. 
  • Mouth washes are a good option- saline type, essential oils type and chlorhexidine gluconate. 

Symptoms of oral or dental problems – 

Symptoms that make a person refer dentist are ulcers, tenderness in mouth, bleeding gums, bad breath, toothache, teeth sensitivity, loose teeth, swelling of face or cheek, jaw clicking, broken teeth and dry mouth etc.,

Factors contributing to gingivitis and periodontics mainly-

Smoking, poor brushing habits, medicines that make mouth dry, sugary foods, diabetes, family history, infections such as HIV, hormonal changes in women, acid reflux or vomiting. 

Correlation between oral health and general health-

Oral health is a window to the overall health of an individual. There is a relationship between oral health and systemic disease. A healthy mouth can help you maintain a healthy body. Sometimes declined oral health is related to conditions such as-

  • Heart disease
  • Endocarditis 
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight etc., 

Bacteria can spread from the oral cavity or mouth to the bloodstream of the body causing many diseases so this is the correlation or link between oral and general health. It is thus advised to keep your mouth healthy. 

Impact of good and bad oral health- 

Poor oral health causes suffering from overwhelming pain and increases the financial burden for society. Oral diseases can affect an individual in their normal day-to-day activities and psychologically cause social and personal problems, reducing the quality of life.The overall burden of oral health conditions on healthcare services is likely to increase because of population growth and aging. Oral diseases unfairly affect the poor and socially disadvantaged members of society. Oral healthcare treatment is expensive, causing out-of-pocket health expenditure in most poor and middle-class families. The demand for oral health care is beyond the capacity of healthcare systems in many parts of India.

Fact check-

  • Oral diseases, while largely preventable, pose a major health burden for many countries and affect people throughout their lifetime, causing pain, discomfort, disfigurement and even death.
  • It is estimated that oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people.
  • Untreated dental caries (tooth decay) in permanent teeth is the most common health condition according to the Global Burden of Disease 2019.
  • Treatment for oral health conditions is expensive and usually not part of universal health coverage (UHC).
  • Most low- and middle-income countries are unable to provide services to prevent and treat oral health conditions.
  • Oral diseases are caused by a range of modifiable risk factors, including sugar consumption, tobacco use, alcohol use and poor hygiene, and their underlying social and commercial determinants.
  • Scurvy is a gum disease from deficiency of vitamin C in diet. 
  • One should consult a dentist and eat a diet that encourages re-mineralization of teeth.
  • People who smoke a lot develop periodontal diseases. 
  • People with intellectual disability develop more oral problems than the general population. 

PGC Resolution-

  • Mitigate oral health problems in India, including preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases. Plan a strategy on diet, physical activity, diets, lifestyles, and well-being of all people.
  • PGC focuses on strengthening cost-effective population-wide oral health promotion and oral health care within the primary care system, particularly among people with limited access to oral health care.