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Dental health problems

Dental health problems

Besides smiling, laughing, and communicating, the mouth and teeth serve important functions in the body. Teeth and saliva break down food, making it easier for the stomach to process it further for absorption by the intestines. The teeth provide structural support for the face. The mouth and throat contain immune cells that help protect the body against pathogens. Taking good care of the mouth and teeth is an essential part of maintaining good health. Here is a guide to some common oral health problems and procedures. Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria — mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.

Normally the body's natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Also, certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and lead to disease.

Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) might play a role in some diseases. And certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

An abscessed tooth occurs when an infection moves up tooth pulp and settles into the root near the jaw bone and forms a swollen, pus-filled area. An untreated tooth abscess may lead to a dangerous infection of the jaw bone and other tissues.  Treatment of a tooth abscess depends on the extent of the infection. Some abscesses may be treated with antibiotics or drainage. In cases in which a cavity or a cracked tooth has exposed the pulp, a root canal may be necessary to treat the abscessed tooth.

Cavities are areas of damaged tooth enamel that form when acid erodes away at a tooth. Bacteria are normally present on teeth as plaque. Bacteria produce acid as a byproduct from feeding on sugar in the diet. The acid produced then erodes the enamel and exposes dentin that, in turn, can become pitted and result in a cavity. Good dental hygiene that includes brushing, flossing, and regular teeth cleanings, can help prevent cavities. Treatment of a cavity depends on the extent of the tooth decay. A small or superficial cavity may be treated with a filling. Larger cavities may require more extensive drilling to remove decay and then placement of a crown over the remaining portion of the tooth. Decay that extends to the tooth pulp may require root canal treatment.

A dental crown is a cap that is placed over a damaged tooth to make it stronger or to improve its appearance. Crowns may be placed over a tooth that has a very large filling or one that is cracked. A crown may also be placed in order to serve as support for a dental bridge. Sometimes a crown is used to disguise an ill-shaped or stained tooth. Dental crowns are available in a variety of materials including porcelain (ceramic), porcelain and metal, metal alloy, and more.

A dry socket is a condition that may result after a tooth extraction if the blood clot that normally fills the socket is lost. The dry socket leaves underlying nerves exposed, which is very painful. The condition is treated by a dentist who cleans the wound and places a special dressing into the socket. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen may be used to treat pain and decrease swelling.

Gum disease (gingivitis) is inflammation of the gums. It is caused by plaque-producing bacteria that build up on the teeth. Severe gum inflammation that spreads to the bones and ligaments that support teeth is called periodontitis and can lead to tooth loss. Lack of good oral hygiene increases the risk of gingivitis. Smoking, diabetes, pregnancy, genetic factors, and certain medications also increase the risk of gum disease. Gum disease is reversible when it is treated in the earlier stages. Regular brushing, flossing, and special dental cleanings and treatments can help prevent and treat gum disease. Periodontal disease has been associated with a number of systemic conditions. Though the biological interactions between oral conditions such as periodontal disease and other medical conditions are still not fully understood, it is clear that major chronic diseases – namely cancer and heart disease – share common risk factors with oral disease. Recognition that oral health and general health are interlinked is essential for determining appropriate oral health care programmes and strategies at both individual and community care levels. That the mouth and body are integral to each other underscores the importance of the integration of oral health into holistic general health policies and of the adoption of a collaborative “Common Risk Factor Approach” for oral health promotion.

To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene daily.

•    Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush using fluoride toothpaste.

•    Floss daily.

•    Use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing.

•    Eat a healthy diet and limit food with added sugars.

•    Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn.

•    Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.

•    Avoid tobacco use.

 

MedicineNet

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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