Oral and dental health should always be maintained, both of which play an important role in overall body health. If oral and dental health is not maintained, the risk of disease or other health problems will increase.
The mouth and teeth are the first parts of the body that receive food, fluids, and are also one of the organs involved in the digestive process. When someone consumes certain foods or drinks, before these two things are swallowed, the food and drink will first enter the mouth.
Even if swallowed, there are still substances that settle in the mouth. The sedimented substance may contain bacteria or dirt in it. Usually, the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care can keep bacteria under control. However, if bacteria and dirt are allowed to settle, this can increase a person’s risk of developing certain diseases or medical conditions.
Causes of Mouth and Dental Problems
The oral cavity is a nest for all kinds of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Some of them are already there and make up the normal flora in the mouth. They are generally harmless in small amounts. However, a diet high in sugar creates conditions in which acid-producing bacteria can thrive. This acid can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities.
Bacteria near the gum line can also develop to form plaque. Plaque can build up, harden, and migrate along the teeth if it is not cleaned regularly. This can make the gums inflamed and cause a condition known as gingivitis.
Severe inflammation can cause the gums to start pulling away from the teeth. This process creates pockets where pus can eventually collect. This advanced stage of gum disease is called periodontitis.
Various Dental and Oral Health Problems
There are several examples of diseases and medical disorders that can arise if the mouth and teeth are not kept clean, including:
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Halitosis is persistent bad breath that doesn’t go away, despite eating sweets, using mouthwash, or brushing your teeth. Generally, halitosis is caused by tobacco consumption, food residue in the mouth that is not cleaned, dry mouth, dirty teeth, and use of certain drugs.
Cavities are damage to hard tooth tissue caused by caries that cannot be prevented. Caries is formed due to bacteria that cause a blackish color. Meanwhile, the main cause is dirty teeth because you rarely brush your teeth and leave them to form plaque.
Plaque that is not treated then turns into caries and causes cavities. Apart from that, cavities can be triggered by several other factors. Examples include consuming excessive sweet foods, dry mouth, suffering from certain eating disorders, and using drugs.
Although the main cause of tongue cancer is gene mutations caused by smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Tongue cancer can also occur due to teeth and mouth factors that are not kept clean.
A tooth abscess is a pathological cavity containing pus caused by a mixed bacterial infection. Tooth abscess is an acute purulent infection that develops in the apical part of the tooth. This condition is usually caused by bacteria originating from infected teeth in both the maxilla and mandible.
Tartar or dental calculus is a buildup of plaque and lime that reacts with saliva. The main cause of tartar is germs that eat food debris stuck to the teeth and between the teeth. Apart from that, the acidity of the pH of saliva also causes tartar to appear.
Risk Factors for Oral and Dental Problems
There are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of experiencing oral and dental problems, namely:
- Not maintaining good oral and dental hygiene.
- Frequently consume sweet foods and drinks.
- Use of drugs that reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth.
- Family history, or genetic factors.
- Certain infections, such as HIV or AIDS.
- Hormonal changes in women.
- Acid reflux disease.
- Frequent vomiting.
Symptoms of Oral and Dental Problems
It is best to immediately have your teeth checked by a doctor if you experience the following symptoms of oral and dental health problems:
- Canker sores, sores or tender areas in the mouth that do not heal after one week.
- Bleeding or swollen gums after brushing or flossing.
- Chronic bad breath.
- Sudden sensitivity to temperature or hot and cold drinks.
- Loose teeth.
- Pain when chewing or biting.
- Swelling of the face and cheeks.
- Cracked or broken teeth.
How to Diagnose Oral and Dental Health Problems
Most dental and oral problems can be diagnosed during a dental examination. During the examination, the dentist will carefully examine the patient’s teeth, mouth, throat, tongue, cheeks, jaw and neck. The dentist may tap or scrape the tooth with various tools, or instruments to help with diagnosis.
A technician at the dentist’s office may also take dental X-rays of the patient’s mouth, ensuring images of each tooth are captured. Be sure to tell your dentist if you are pregnant. Women who are pregnant should not have an X-ray.
A tool called a probe can also be used to measure gum pockets. This little ruler can tell the dentist whether or not you have gum disease or receding gums.
If a dentist finds a lump, lesion, or abnormal growth in a patient’s mouth, they may perform a gum biopsy. During a biopsy, a small piece of tissue is removed from the growth or lesion. The sample is then sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
If oral cancer is suspected, the dentist may also recommend imaging tests to see whether the cancer has spread. Tests may include:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
Treatment of Oral and Dental Problems
The following are various treatments that can be performed by dentists to treat oral and dental problems:
A cleaning by a dentist can remove plaque that you might miss when brushing and flossing. This treatment will also remove tartar.
After your teeth cleaning, your dentist may apply a fluoride treatment to help fight cavities. Fluoride is a natural mineral that can help strengthen tooth enamel, and make it more resistant to bacteria and acids.
If you show signs of gum infection or have a tooth abscess that has spread to other teeth or the jaw, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help get rid of the infection.
Fillings, Crowns, and Sealants
Fillings are used to repair cavities, cracks or holes in teeth. Meanwhile, crowns are used when most of the tooth needs to be removed or is broken due to injury. Dental sealant is a thin protective coating placed on the back teeth, or molars, to help prevent cavities.
Patients may need a root canal if the tooth decay reaches all the way inside the tooth to the nerve.
Oral surgery is usually performed to treat more serious periodontal cases.
Complications of Oral and Dental Health Problems
Periodontal disease can eventually destroy the bone that supports the teeth. It can cause many complications. The following are the risks and complications of untreated periodontal disease:
- Tooth abscess.
- Other infections.
- Tooth migration.
- Pregnancy complications.
- Exposure of tooth roots.
- Oral cancer.
- Loss of teeth.
- Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease.
- If left untreated, infection from a tooth abscess can spread to other parts of the head or neck. It can even cause sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection.
How to Prevent Oral and Dental Health Problems
Cleanliness is a very important thing to pay attention to in order to maintain oral and dental health. There are several steps you can take, including:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Avoid or not smoke and chew tobacco.
Have regular check-ups with the dentist every six months.
- If you are using certain medications, ask your doctor whether the medication makes your mouth dry or not.
- Look for signs of damage in the mouth, whether there are bleeding gums or canker sores that don’t heal.
- Avoid or reduce consumption of foods and drinks with high sugar content. Sugar can become plaque if it is allowed to settle on teeth.
- Avoid and reduce hard, acidic and cold foods because they can damage the tooth layer.
- You need to pay attention to your toothbrush because worn out bristles can injure your gums and damage the layers of your teeth.
When Should You See a Doctor?
If there are symptoms or problems in the mouth and teeth, immediately talk to a doctor so that they can be treated immediately, and do not cause more serious complications or symptoms.