Everything You Need to Know About Dental and Oral Health
Dental and oral health is an essential part of your overall health and well-being. Poor oral hygiene can lead to dental cavities and gum disease, and has also been linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a lifelong commitment. The earlier you learn proper oral hygiene habits — such as brushing, flossing, and limiting your sugar intake — the easier it’ll be to avoid costly dental procedures and long-term health issues.
Facts about dental and oral health
Dental cavities and gum disease are very common. According to the World Health OrganizationTrusted Source
There are many steps you can take to keep your teeth healthy. For example, dental and oral disease can be greatly reduced by:
Symptoms of dental and oral problems
You shouldn’t wait until you have symptoms to visit your dentist. Going to the dentist twice a year will usually allow them to catch a problem before you even notice any symptoms.
If you experience any of the following warning signs of dental health issues, you should make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible:
ulcers, sores, or tender areas in the mouth that won’t heal after a week or two
bleeding or swollen gums after brushing or flossing
chronic bad breath
If any of these symptoms are accompanied by a high fever and facial or neck swelling, you should seek emergency medical treatment. Learn more about the warning signs of oral health issues.
Causes of dental and oral diseases
Your oral cavity collects all sorts of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Some of them belong there, making up the normal flora of your mouth. They’re generally harmless in small quantities. But a diet high in sugar creates conditions in which acid-producing bacteria can flourish. This acid dissolves tooth enamel and causes dental cavities.
Bacteria near your gumline thrive in a sticky matrix called plaque. Plaque accumulates, hardens, and migrates down the length of your tooth if it isn’t removed regularly by brushing and flossing. This can inflame your gums and cause the condition known as gingivitis.
Increased inflammation causes your gums to begin to pull away from your teeth. This process creates pockets in which pus may eventually collect. This more advanced stage of gum disease is called periodontitis.
There are many factors that contribute to gingivitis and periodontitis, including:
poor brushing habits
frequent snacking on sugary foods and drinks
the use of medications that reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth
family history, or genetics
certain infections, such as HIV or AIDS
hormonal changes in women
acid reflux, or heartburn
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