Recent research reveals strong links between oral health and general health. Good oral hygiene – controlling bacterial plaque and preventing periodontal or gum disease inflammation and infection – is essential for maintaining good overall health. To put it simply, keeping your mouth happy and healthy will help to keep your whole body smiling.
As a dentist in Caloundra, we offer clinical periodontal examination that helps prevent, diagnose and treat gum diseases. This helps reduce the risk of serious dental issues. In addition, this examination also helps ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy for a long time.
If you are looking for comprehensive periodontal exams in Sunshine Coast, get in touch with us to know how we can help. For now, let’s check out the causes and symptoms of dental issues, facts about oral and general health and dental treatments.
Link Between Oral Health and General Health
There’s an underlying link between oral health and general health. As most of the food goes through your mouth, a healthy mouth means a healthy body. Oral issues are known to affect our systemic health as various bacteria and inflammation can be lead to heart disease, Endocarditis and premature birth or low birth weight during pregnancy.
The oral cavity at times can spread to your bloodstream causing infective Endocarditis. This infection is a life-endangering condition that affects the heart valves. The dentist may recommend some antibiotics before performing any dental procedure to dislodge the bacteria in your mouth.
Facts About Oral and General Health
- Chronic periodontal disease is a risk to the heart and circulatory system, increasing the chance of heart attack and stroke. While oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through bleeding sites in the mouth and spread throughout the body, a greater risk comes from the increased levels of inflammation from untreated gum disease.
- Chronic periodontal disease is also a risk for people with diabetes as it can worsen blood glucose control and place them at risk for diabetic complications.
- Osteoporosis can result in decreased jawbone density and tooth loss. Chronic periodontal disease is another risk factor for patients with osteoporosis as the breakdown of bone and ligaments caused by untreated gum disease further increases the problem.
- Chronic periodontal disease is a risk during pregnancy, being linked with pre-term, low-weight births. Some studies show that pregnant women with untreated gum disease are 4.28 times more likely to have pre-term, low birth-weight babies.
- It is also associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia. This is particularly a risk for the elderly or infirm in care units, hospitals and nursing homes.
- There may be connections to other medical conditions such as obesity, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis but more work is needed to understand the interactions.
Symptoms of Various Dental Issues
The best preventive measure to avoid experiencing any dental issues would be visiting the dentist every six months. But if you are noticing some of the symptoms listed below you would need to visit the dentist immediately.
- Loose tooth
- Swollen/red/bleeding gums
- Ulcers, sore spots in your mouth that won’t go away in a week
- Chronic bad breath
- Instant pain or irritation while chewing foods
- Receding gums
- Pain and swelling of the cheeks and jaw.
- Opening and closing your jaws cause clicking sounds.
- Incessant dry mouth.
- Broken/cracked tooth
- Unexpected sensitivity due to cold or hot beverages
Note: If all of the above symptoms are followed by a high fever or swelling in the face & neck area you need to contact the dentist immediately.
Main Causes of Dental Problems
Due to poor oral hygiene, a sticky filmy substance known as plaque accumulates around the tooth. If left untreated, it can build up and become hard over time turning into tartar. Also referred to as dental calculus, it causes teeth stains and discolouration. It is common for bacteria and acids in small quantities to reside in your mouth. While they are generally harmless, a high sugar diet creates a condition where the acid-producing bacteria can grow. This could lead to serious conditions like gingivitis and periodontitis.
Some of the common contributing factors for dental problems are:
- Poor brushing and flossing habits
- Chronic diseases like diabetes
- Frequently snacking on junk sugar foods
- Consumption of medication that dries out the saliva in the mouth
- Hormonal changes in women
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Infections such as HIV or AIDS
Diagnosis of Oral/Dental Problems
Dental exams can help diagnose oral and dental problems. The doctor would focus on the teeth, mouth, throat, jaw, neck, tongue, and cheeks during diagnosis.
Dental x-rays can be used to get a clear image of all your teeth.
A tool named ‘probe’ would be used to check and measure your gum pockets. This small tool will help detect whether you have an infection in your gums or not. In a normal, healthy mouth the measurement of the depth of the pockets would be 1 to 3 millimetres. Anything higher than that would mean you are suffering from gum disease.
After the diagnosis, if the dentist finds any unusual lumps, sores or growth in your throat he may suggest a gum biopsy. In this, a small tissue is removed from the lump or growth and the tissue is then sent to a lab for examination for any cancerous cells.
If the dentist suspects oral cancer, he may suggest an imaging test to see if cancer has spread. The test could be an X-ray, MRI, CT scan or Endoscopy.
Common Dental Problems and Tooth Diseases
- Cavities: Also known as tooth decay or caries, cavities lead to holes in the teeth and can permanently damage your teeth if not treated. Cavities are formed when the acids in the mouth wear down the tooth enamel. They are fairly common and occur due to bacteria or food stuck between the teeth that start forming a plaque. As time passes, this little erosion can lead to permanent damage to the tooth. One can prevent cavities with the help of proper brushing, flossing and dental cleaning.
- Gingivitis (gum disease): Gingivitis is an inflammation caused in the gums. It is a common oral disease, which results from plaque accumulation due to poor brushing and flossing practices. In this, the gums cause irritation, redness and swelling of your gingiva - a part of your gums around the base of your tooth. Gingivitis must be treated at once or else it could lead to a severe condition, periodontitis.
- Sensitivity of tooth: If your tooth is sensitive, you may feel discomfort and irritation when consuming cold or hot food items. Some of the sensitivity is natural among people with thinner enamel. Tooth Sensitivity - also known as ‘dentin hypersensitivity’ - can occur due to various reasons such as gum problems, receding gums, cracked/broken teeth and worn-down filling or dental crowns. Many-a times the sensitivity is caused for a short period after a dental filling or root canal. The best way to deal with tooth sensitivity is to improve your oral hygiene practices.
- Cracked or broken tooth: A crack happens when the person has an injury, if he/she eats something hard or grinds teeth while sleeping. When you have a broken tooth, you may experience inconsistent pain while chewing food or while consuming hot or cold foods. In many cases, the pain is so erratic that the dentist may have a hard time locating the particular tooth causing discomfort.
- Periodontitis: Also referred to as gum disease, Periodontitis is a serious infection that damages the soft tissue of the tooth. If not treated, it may damage the bone supporting the tooth. This can further loosen your teeth or lead to tooth loss. Periodontitis, even though a common dental issue, can be prevented in adults and kids by maintaining healthy dental hygiene.
- Oral cancer: The dentist would probably be the first one to identify oral cancer. Oral cancer occurs as a growth or sore in your mouth that doesn’t go away. This may include cancer of gums, lips, tongue, cheek, the floor of the mouth and hard/soft palette.
Dental Treatments and Procedures
- Professional teeth cleaning:A dental cleaning helps eliminate plaque and tar Performed by a dental hygienist, after removing the tartar, the dental hygienist would use a high-powered toothbrush to clean your teeth. These steps would be followed by flossing and clearing out debris. Also referred to as root planing and scaling, professional teeth cleaning clears out the tart from above and below the gum line that is often missed during regular brushing.
- Fluoride treatments:Following professional cleaning, the dentist may suggest a fluoride treatment. The dentist would apply fluoride on your teeth to prevent cavities. A natural mineral, fluoride helps strengthen the tooth enamel making them resilient to bacteria and acids.
- Dental fillings, crowns and sealants: A filling is used to treats cracks, cavities or a hole in the tooth. The dentist will drill out the cavities and fill them with materials such as composite and amalgam. A dental crown is often used after a root canal procedure. The crown is used to cover when a large portion of the tooth is removed due to an injury or decay. There are two types of crown available - one is the implant crown that covers a dental implant. Another is a regular one that fits seamlessly over a natural tooth.
- Root canal treatment:A root canal becomes necessary when the decay has reached up to the nerve of your tooth. It is a dental procedure to remove the pulp - the soft centre of your tooth. During the procedure, the dentist removes the nerve and replaces it with a filling of bio-compatible material. It is usually a combination of rubber-like material known as gutta-percha and adhesive cement. A root canal is treated under local anaesthesia that numbs the infected area.
- Antibiotics and Probiotics: Antibiotics are suggested when you have a gum infection that has spread to your teeth & jaw or for tooth abscess. The suggested antibiotics would be in the form of mouth wash gel or oral pills. During surgical procedures, the dentist may also apply the antibiotic gel on your teeth or gums. Probiotics are suggested to prevent plaque and treat bad breath They are also beneficial for oral cancer and to reduce gum inflammation.
#Prevention of Oral and Dental Problems
Good oral health helps balance your general as well as dental health. Some of the best ways to prevent oral and dental problems include:
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste
- Routine flossing (at least once a day)
- A regular visit to the dentist
- Avoid chewing tobacco or smoking
- Include high fibre food in your diet that is low in sugar and fat
- Limit junk and sugary foods in your diet.
Further Reading: Best and worst foods for your teeth
Need help with chronic periodontal disease? Contact Oris Dental to book an appointment now.
Stay healthy and keep smiling!