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The Need for Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene can have a positive impact on the overall well-being and health of an individual. This is why the importance of good oral hygiene is emphasized by dental hygienists. Poor habits can lead to short and long term consequences that range from dental cavities to serious gum diseases such as Gingivitis and Periodontitis.
The best practices to maintain good oral health are:
- Brushing teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day
- Flossing teeth regularly
- Professional teeth cleaning every six months
- Limited consumption of sugary food and drinks
- Following a low-fat, high-fiber, low-sugar diet
Symptoms of oral health problems
Below we have listed some of the common symptoms associated with oral health problems. If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it is advisable to book an appointment with your dentist at the earliest:
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Sudden sensitivity to hot and cold food, beverages and temperatures
- Chronic bad breath
- Receding Gums
- Frequent dry mouth
- Broken, cracked or loose teeth
- Mouth sores or ulcers
- Tender areas in the mouth for a prolonged time
- Pain while biting and chewing
- Swelling of cheeks or face
- Clicking of the jaw
Causes of oral health problems
Are you experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above? What could be the reason behind it?
Let’s take a step back and understand what goes on inside your mouth. Did you know that your mouth is home to several types of bacteria and fungi? Generally present in small quantities, they are pretty harmless. However, if the level of bacteria or fungi in your mouth increases it can lead to oral health problems. Habits such as intake of high sugar foods and infrequent brushing can create the conditions under which harmful acid-producing bacteria thrive.
Why is this harmful for your oral health? The acid produced by the bacteria leads to the dissolution of tooth enamel and will eventually cause dental cavities.
Irregular brushing or flossing can lead to the accumulation of plaque, which in turn can cause gum inflammation known as gingivitis. If left unchecked, this can cause a more advanced gum disease known as periodontitis.
Below we have listed some of the common causes for gingivitis and periodontitis:
- Poor brushing habits
- Frequent consumption of sugary food and drinks
- Acid reflux
- Frequent vomiting
- Family history or genetics
- Hormonal changes (women)
- Infections such as HIV or AIDS
- Intake of saliva-reducing medications
If you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above, the next step is to diagnose your dental condition. A dentist or dental hygienist at an oral health centre will examine your mouth and identify the cause for the symptoms you are experiencing. After a proper diagnosis your dentist will suggest an appropriate course of treatment. During the exam, your dentist will closely inspect the following:
- Poor brushing habits
Common oral health problems
Measures like brushing, flossing and professional oral care solutions such as teeth cleaning can help prevent many common oral health issues. However, like all wear and tear in the body, you may experience at least one of the following dental issues in your lifetime
1. Cavities or Caries
Cavities or caries occur due to acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. Food that gets caught in the teeth can lead to the formation of plaque which can eat away at the tooth enamel, the connective tissue or underlying dentin. Cavities are a fairly common type of tooth decay that can cause permanent damage and holes in the tooth.
2. Gingivitis & Periodontitis
Gingivitis, simply known as gum disease is characterized by the inflammation of the gums. Infrequent brushing and flossing can result in the buildup of plaque between the gums and teeth. Gingivitis can cause gums to swell up and bleed during flossing or brushing. If left untreated by a professional oral care specialist, it can eventually result in a serious infection known as periodontitis. Advanced stages of gum disease can invoke an inflammatory response all throughout the body as the infection rapidly spreads to the jaw and bones.
3. Broken Teeth
An injury to the mouth may cause teeth to chip or break, this can be quite painful. Other harmful habits like teeth grinding (bruxism) or the chewing of solid hard foods can cause cracked teeth, in which case you should visit your dentist immediately.
Common dental treatment options
After a proper diagnosis, your dentist will suggest an optimal treatment plan. Below we have listed some of the common dental treatments that are used to address various ailments.
1. Teeth Cleaning
Apart from maintaining good oral hygiene at home, it is recommended that you visit an oral health centre near you and ask your dentist for a professional teeth cleaning at least twice a year. This can help get rid of plaque or tartar buildup that is generally overlooked during brushing and flossing. Regular teeth cleanings can help prevent dental problems from occurring and help identify problem areas well in time so that they can be addressed before they lead to more serious issues.
2. Fillings, Crowns, and Sealants
Fillings are used to repair a crack, cavity or hole in a tooth. Using a drill, the dentist will remove the damaged area of the tooth and usually fill it with a composite resin. The use of a filling helps prevent further damage to the tooth.
A dental crown or cap is used when the damage to a tooth is more extensive. This type of tooth restoration completely covers the damaged tooth or implant. Hence dental crowns can be broadly segregated into two categories:
- An implant crown that fits over a dental implant
- A regular crown that fits over a natural tooth
Dental crowns can be manufactured from different materials in a laboratory or chair-side with CAD/CAM technology. Today crowns are made of composite resins or ceramic materials. Hence, they can be made to match the natural colour of your teeth.
The chewing surfaces of our teeth have crevices and dips where food can get caught. Often, these crevices and dips are difficult to reach and do not get cleaned with regular brushing or flossing. Hence dental sealants can be used as a preventive measure. Sealants are painless and easy to apply protective coatings that can be applied to the teeth, most commonly on molars and premolars to help prevent cavities. Sealants are most commonly used for children and teenagers. However, in certain situations sealants can also be useful for adults.
3. Root Canal
If tooth decay reaches all the way inside the tooth to the nerve, you may be in need of a root canal. During this procedure, the infected nerve is removed and replaced with a filling that is made using a biocompatible material.
4. Amalgam Replacement
Metal fillings are usually made up of a stable alloy of mercury, silver, tin, copper and other metals. This alloy is referred to as dental amalgam. Over time metal fillings may start to show decay or become defective. In such situations your dentist will recommend replacing metal filling with composite materials. The replacement of dental amalgam for cosmetic reasons should only be done after careful consideration and discussion with your dentist.
Surgery may be required to treat advanced oral health issues like replacing broken or missing teeth, treating serious infections, etc. Below we have mentioned some common oral surgeries.
A frenulum is a small fold of tissue that supports or restricts the motion of the part to which it is attached. Oral frenulums are found under the tongue and inside the lips. If the frenulum is too long or too short it can cause problems. In infants, a lip-tie or tongue-tie can cause difficulties with breastfeeding. For children and adults, frenulums may cause issues with speech or eating. In such situations your dentist may recommend a frenectomy. Simply put, a frenectomy is the removal of a frenulum. The removal of the frenulum inside the middle of the upper lip is called a labial frenectomy. Removing the frenulum under the tongue is referred to as a lingual frenectomy.
2. Tooth extraction
There are two main types of tooth extraction. A dental tooth extraction and a surgical tooth extraction. Dental tooth extractions are performed when the tooth is clearly visible. A surgery may be required if the tooth has not fully erupted and is not clearly visible. This type of extraction is conducted by an oral surgeon. Tooth extractions may also be conducted for teeth that can’t be saved using alternate approaches like root canals or other surgeries.
Often adults develop third molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth that are impacted. This means that the teeth do not have enough room to fully erupt in the mouth. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, infection and other oral health problems. In such situations tooth extraction surgery may be required.
3. Dental Implants
Dental implants are used to replace a tooth that is lost due to an accident or disease. A dental implant is placed in the jaw bone to support a dental prosthetic like a crown, bridge or denture. There are several different types of dental implants. Your dentist will have a discussion with you to determine which is the best implant for your requirement.
Do you have any questions or do you need any advice?
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