Diseases that Affect the Mouth
Oral health is of the utmost importance as it provides an insight into internal health and has the potential to reflect a beautiful smile. Oral hygiene is the key to successful oral health, but many fail to note the importance of brushing and flossing on a regular basis. Serious conditions and diseases are on the increase as a result of poor oral health among children and adults alike. Examples of oral health diseases include: gum disease, tooth decay and oral cancer.
Tooth decay is one of the most common and preventable dental ailments, affecting people of all ages. It is the bacteria found within the mouth that causes decay and results in the following:
- When eating, the bacterium starts to feed on the food particles, which cause them to produce harmful plaque acids.
- These acids attack the protective enamel covering of the teeth and leave the rest of the tooth susceptible to damage.
- Symptoms of tooth decay include: pain, toothache and discoloured spots on the teeth.
If tooth decay is left untreated, bacterial infection can spread to other parts of the mouth and this can lead to painful abscesses (Tonsilloliths) and gum disease.
Gum disease is extremely common and most experience symptoms at some point in their lives. There are two stages of gum disease including: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is apparent at the early stage, when symptoms are mild. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can develop into periodontal disease, which is much more serious and difficult to treat.
Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums (especially after brushing)
- Sore, tender gums
- Redness in the gums
- Bad breath
If gum disease is left untreated, pockets will eventually form between the teeth and the gums. Unfortunately at this stage the teeth will start to come loose.
Gingivitis is usually easily treatable, but severe gum disease is somewhat difficult and lengthy. Ensure you visit your dentist if you are displaying any of the symptoms.
Oral cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer, but kills more people than cervical and testicular cancer combined. The number of cases is increasing year after year. Dentists are able to spot the early warning signs of oral cancer, so regular check-ups ensure that any symptoms are detected early and the disease can be treated as soon as possible. Symptoms to note include:
- Swellings in the mouth or throat
- Red or white patches in the mouth
- Sores (ulcers) that take a long time to heal
Preventing Oral Diseases
Simply spending a few minutes each day taking care of your teeth and gums can help to keep oral diseases at bay. Brushing twice a day for at least 2 minutes each time, flossing on a regular basis and rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash will help keep your mouth fresh and clean and your teeth strong and healthy. You should also visit your dentist every six to twelve months for a check-up.
Diet plays an important role in the maintenance of oral health. Avoid eating sugary, acidic foods and drinks and cut down on snacking, especially if you are partial to sweet snacks in between meals. When consuming sugary foods, the plaque acids made by bacteria in your mouth attack the teeth. Your mouth can only withstand a certain number of attacks during the day. Try to drink water or milk and if you do fancy a sweet treat, eat it straight after your meal.
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