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Watch Your Mouth!

Mar/19/2023 / by Melanie Fourie

This World Oral Health Day, address some of the threats to dental hygiene

Woman brushing her teeth
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March 20 is World Oral Health Day, which promotes awareness about the importance of oral health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines “oral health” as the condition of the mouth, teeth, and orofacial structures that influences one’s ability to eat, breathe, and talk.

According to the WHO Global Oral Health Status Report (2022), nearly 3.5 billion people globally suffer from oral disease. According to the Borgen Project, about 85-90% of adults and 60-80% of kids have oral caries in South Asian nations such as India,. About 30% of young children there also have tooth and jaw alignment issues. More than half of Indians visit non-dental professionals like pharmacists for help to deal with oral issues. Also, only about half the population uses dental hygiene products such as toothbrushes and mouthwash.

According to the Pakistan Journal of Health Sciences, 60% of adults in that country also have dental caries, which is linked to a diet high in sweets and refined carbs. The high cost of dental exams and other preventative care also hinders access to dental services there.

Painful oral diseases can cause social withdrawal, a result of a lack of confidence. They can also cause other health issues. Fortunately, most dental health problems are avoidable and treatable with early detection and treatment. Here are some causes of oral health diseases and ways to prevent them.

Poor Dental Hygiene

Cavities, bad breath, periodontal disease, and bone infections are some results of bad oral hygiene. Without appropriate care, you can lose your teeth. Additionally, not removing food stuck between your teeth is a leading cause of caries and bad breath.

Alcohol Consumption

Carbohydrates and acids in boozy drinks break down protective dental enamel. Alcohol reduces the production of saliva, which otherwise helps wash away carbohydrates in the mouth. Without this protection, saliva cannot protect tooth enamel, thereby hastening enamel wear.

Consuming alcohol causes periodontitis, the inflammation and infection of the gums. Sugar in alcoholic beverages feeds bacteria that irritate the gums. Periodontitis symptoms include bad breath and swollen, bleeding gums.

High Sugar Intake

Excess dietary sugar harms dental health. A diet high in sweets worsen cavities, periodontal disease, and tooth loss. Oral bacteria digest sucrose, producing acid that can eat away at dental enamel and cause caries.

Tobacco

According to WebMD, using tobacco can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease by weakening the bone and soft tissue that support your teeth. In particular, smoking disrupts the regular functioning of cells in gingival tissue. It also causes yellowing of teeth and bad breath. Healing may also slow down and you may have more tartar buildup after dental work if you use tobacco.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Healthline reports that medical conditions such as dry mouth, anorexia, and bulimia are linked to oral caries. Acid reflux is another culprit, as high levels of stomach acid damage your tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities. Dry mouth is often associated with dehydration, smoking, taking certain medications, anxiety, and diabetes, among other things.

Boost Your Oral Health!

Here is a list of what you can do to maintain good oral health:

  • Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice daily. Change the toothbrush every three months.
  • Floss regularly to remove bits of food from between your teeth.
  • Use an alcohol-free mouthwash.
  • Visit dentists every six months for checkups, cleanings, and scaling. They can also detect any irregularities in your mouth at checkups.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake.
  • Reduce tobacco and nicotine use.
  • Cut down on sugars and starchy carbs that can convert into sugars.
  • If you have the condition, keep acid reflux under control by reducing your intake of acidic foods.
  • If you have dry mouth symptoms caused by medication, stress, or diabetes, stay hydrated.
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