Oral Health

Reviewed: April 08, 2013
By eHealthIQ
Oral Health

What is oral health?

Oral health primarily refers to the condition of your teeth, mouth and gums. Having good oral health is not only important for your teeth and gums, but it is an important part of being healthy overall. From taking care of teeth to preventing decay, there are many aspects of oral health that are important in being as healthy as possible. About 75% of Americans have some type of periodontal disease, which when not treated can be very damaging to one’s health.

Dental practitioners recommend visits to the dentist every six months. Not only does this help to take care of your teeth, but it can provide for early detection of periodontal disease.

Symptoms of poor oral health

Poor dental hygiene and habits can not only cause symptoms such as bad breath, but it can lead to more serious things such as gum, or periodontal, disease.

Halitosis.
This is the medical term for bad breath and happens as a result of poor dental habits. When you don’t brush and floss every day, food particles remain in the mouth and cause bacterial growth between teeth and on the tongue, which in turn causes bad breath. Other causes of halitosis include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Eating certain types of food such as onions and garlic
  • Not cleaning dentures properly
  • Low-carb diets
  • Dry mouth, a medication condition in which the mouth is drier than usual
  • Yeast infections of the mouth
  • Diseases such as diabetes, acid reflux, pneumonia, bronchitis or kidney problems

Good oral hygiene will prevent or reduce bad breath. Brushing teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing is important to remove food particles. Other tips on preventing bad breath are:

  • Get professional teeth cleanings and examinations at least twice a year
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy
  • Brush your tongue when brushing teeth
  • Stay hydrated – drinking water keeps mouth moist
  • Replace toothbrush every three months
  • If you have dentures, remove them every night and clean well before placing them back into your mouth
  • Avoid foods with strong odors

Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease.
Gingivitis is also known as gum inflammation, and it is a condition that usually precedes periodontis, which is gum disease. At the beginning stages of gingivitis, bacteria in plaque causes gums to become inflamed and irritated, and sometimes it causes bleeding gums. If this condition is left untreated, the gingivitis can advance to periodontis. In periodontis, the inner layer of the gum and bone start to pull away from the teeth, creating spaces between teeth and gums that can become infected.

Signs and symptoms of gingivitis:

  • Tender, swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Soft gums
  • Red colored gums

Signs and symptoms of gum disease:

  • Tender, swollen gums
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Bright red gums
  • Changes in the way teeth fit together when biting down
  • Bad breath or bad taste in mouth
  • Feeling of loose or shifting teeth
  • Teeth that look longer than normal

Taking care of teeth

Brushing your teeth is the easiest thing can do to maintain good oral health. Choosing a toothbrush and toothpaste that is approved by the American Dental Association is important. Most dentists prefer toothbrushes labeled as ‘soft,’ but some people have a personal preference for a tougher bristle. Regardless of the type of toothbrush, it should be replaced every three months. Here are some additional tips for taking care of teeth and preventing tooth decay:

  • Brush and floss teeth after meals and before going to bed
  • Use an ADA approved toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Drink water with fluoride in it
  • Avoid carbohydrates such as chips and pretzels that can remain on the surface of the teeth
  • Go to the dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and exams

References

  • http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/default.htm
  • http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dental/DE00001
  • http://www.medicinenet.com/oralhealth/focus.htm
  • http://dentistry.about.com/od/basicdentalcare/qt/perinatalguidelines.htm
  • http://www.cks.nhs.uk/clinical_topics/by_clinical_specialty/oral_health

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