According to WHO, oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people. That means that, for every two people, one has some kind of oral disease. For many countries and individuals, oral diseases are such a health burden. When an oral disease affects you, it causes so much pain, discomfort, teeth loss, and can even lead to death.
Oral diseases have the same risk factors as common non-communicable diseases. These diseases not only affect adults. Children too are at risk. The WHO estimates that up to 530 million children suffer from oral diseases. Oral health diseases are expensive to treat, especially now that they are not part of oral health coverage. Most of the types of oral diseases result from intake of diet high in sugar and the use of alcohol and tobacco.
How Do You Tell You Have Oral Diseases?
Oral diseases start showing symptoms early before they exacerbate serious conditions. If you visit the dentist, you will catch these issues before they worsen. You will experience some warning signs, such as:
• Ulcers or sores in the mouth, which may fail to heal after a week or two
• Swollen and bleeding gums after flossing or brushing
• Bad breath even after brushing your teeth and using mouthwash
• Sensitivity of the teeth to hot and cold beverages
• Pain and toothache
• Frequent dry mouth
• Clicking of jaws
• Broken or cracked teeth
• Swelling of the cheek and face
• Receding gums
• Loose teeth
• Pain when chewing or biting
If you notice a fever or facial and neck swelling, you need to seek immediate medical attention. There are several bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause oral diseases. Some of the bacteria make up the flora of your mouth, and they are not harmful in small quantities. However, when you take a diet rich in sugar, you increase the propagation of acid-producing bacteria. When these bacteria flourish, they produce acids that can dissolve the enamel of your tooth, which results in dental cavities.
The bacteria in a mouth flourish in a plague, which is a sticky matrix that grows on your teeth. The plague hardens from the gumline and migrates down your tooth when you do not brush regularly. If you brush and floss regularly, plaque does not form. Plague can lead to inflammation of the gums, which causes them to pull away from your mouth. There are several factors that may cause oral diseases. These include:
• Staying for long periods without brushing
• Genetics hormonal changes
• Frequent vomiting
• Acid reflux, heartburn
• Infections, such as HIV/AIDS
• Medications that may reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth
• Taking of sugary foods and drinks
• Frequent vomiting, thanks to the acid in the stomach
Types of Oral Diseases
Bacteria are the main cause of most oral diseases. They affect different parts of your mouth. Here are common oral diseases.
Gum disease occurs when you fail to take good care of your teeth and gums. The buildup of plaque leads to the development of gingivitis, also known as periodontitis. Bacteria live and flourish in the plague, and they may release some acids that affect your teeth and gum.
You can tell you have gingivitis if you notice:
• Your gums bleeding when you eat crunchy foods, when you floss, or when you brush your teeth the gums swell and become tender and painful
• The space between your teeth enlarges
• You experience frequent mouth sores
You only need a few dental appointments to treat periodontal disease. The first step in the management of the periodontal disease is cleaning the teeth to remove the plaque and the tartar that builds up around the gums. The process can be painful, but the dentist will spread it over several sessions. After that, you will need to keep your teeth and gums clean to ensure there is no buildup of plaque and tartar.
Tooth Decay and Tooth Cavities
Tooth decay affects millions of people worldwide, both children and adults. It occurs when you fail to brush your teeth after consuming sugary food items and drinks. Acidic foods can also cause tooth decay. Acid-producing bacteria feed on the sugar from the food, multiply in numbers, and then start producing acid.
The acid can perforate your enamel, which further allows the bacteria to grow even more. When you have tooth decay, you will experience symptoms, such as:
• Sharp pain around the affected tooth even when you are not chewing
• Increased tooth sensitivity, especially when chewing food
• Brown or gray spots on the surface of your teeth
• Gum inflammation around the affected teeth
If the bacteria are on the surface of your tooth, the dentist will scrape or drill it off from the surface. The dentist then fills the surface of the tooth with amalgam or composite material that matches the color of your tooth. Cavities that advance beyond the surface of your tooth will require a tooth canal from an endodontist to cure. These are cavities that affect the interior pulp of your tooth. If the cavity is so advanced, a dentist might also recommend extraction. After extraction, you may need a replacement. Replacing an extracted tooth ensures you maintain your facial structure and you do not have any challenges when chewing.
Oral cancer affects several areas of your mouth from the tongue, cheeks, throat, gum, and lips among others. The challenge with this condition is that it survives undetected for a long time. It will start showing as a tingling and swollen sore or can appear as a white surface on the gums. The condition can result from excess tobacco or the Human Papilloma Virus, HPV. You can tell you have oral cancer if you observe symptoms, such as:
• Difficulties in swallowing
• Bleeding of the affected areas
• Swollen lymph nodes
• White and red ulcers in the mouth that won’t disappear
If you visit the dentist once every six months, it will be easy to detect oral cancer at its initial stages. Ensure that your dental visits include cancer screening. The dentist will check every part of the mouth to ensure that there are no signs and symptoms of the disease. Management of the disease involves the use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Cleft Lip or Palate
This condition affects fetuses and can be seen at birth. It occurs when the upper lip tissues fail to form completely between the sixth and ninth weeks of gestation. This is not a disease but a development condition. In most cases, the problem with a cleft lip is purely cosmetic. However, if the condition is severe, it affects how someone speaks, eats, and swallows food.
It can result from:
• Smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy
• Taking of some epileptic medicines during or before pregnancy
• Pre-existing diabetes for pregnant mothers
If your baby has a cleft lip, they need surgery within the first 18 months. This can help prevent severe oral health issues in the future. Again, if the cleft lip affects their speech, the child can undergo speech therapy to train them how to talk properly.
Oral thrush is caused by the overgrowth of Candida fungus in your mouth. The condition is common in infants, but it can also affect adults with poor immunity. It causes white lesions on the tongue and the cheek. If you do not seek treatment for oral thrush, it can spread to the tonsils and throat. This can lead to difficulties when swallowing.
Some of the symptoms of oral thrush include:
• White lesions or sores that cover the lining of your mouth
• Burning sensation when you swallow
• Reduced appetite
• Reduced sense of taste
• Cracks and irritation on the corners of your mouth
You can prevent oral thrush through proper hygiene, including brushing and flossing regularly. After diagnosis, the dentist can use antibiotics to kill the fungal spores to halt the progress of the infection.
This is a condition commonly known as bad breath. It is a chronic condition that can result from a number of factors, such as poor dental hygiene, smoking, and respiratory tract infections. It can also be a symptom of periodontitis and gingivitis. These two conditions occur as a result of the bacteria that flourish in the plaque or tartar on the teeth and gum. Although the condition does not cause any pain, it leads to so much anxiety in social settings. In severe conditions, the mouth odor is noticeable when you get close to people.
Some signs of bad breath include:
• Dry and cracked mouth
• Foul smell from the mouth
• Consistently bitter and metallic taste in the mouth
• Thick saliva with mucus
You can manage halitosis by observing routine oral hygiene. You should also see the doctor routinely to ensure diseases, such as periodontitis and gingivitis are detected early. After brushing and flossing, you should use an antiseptic mouthwash. This helps get rid of bacteria that may propagate at night after supper. You also need to drink enough hydrated water to alleviate the symptoms of halitosis.
There is a relationship between your oral health and diabetes. If you suffer from advanced gum disease, you will have problems with blood sugar regulation. This, in turn, can cause Diabetes Type II. Again, if you suffer from diabetes, you will have weakened immunity, which can then make you prone to bacterial infection in your mouth.
If you have dental-related diabetes, you will observe symptoms, such as:
• Blood sugar control problems that result from periodontal diseases
• Dry mouth
• Halitosis, which results from the production of ketones for energy in the mouth
Like other oral diseases, you can ensure this condition does not exacerbate by visiting the dentist at least twice a year. At Smile Angels of Beverly Hills, the dentist will formulate a treatment plan that will see you regain your health within the shortest time possible.
Diagnosing Oral Diseases
It is easy for a dentist to diagnose any of the above diseases during a dental exam. The dentist inspects the teeth, mouth, cheeks, neck, throat, tongue, and jaws. To get more details on the health of the teeth, a dentist may scrape or tap the teeth with various tools to get the right diagnosis. Where necessary, an X-ray of your teeth may be taken. This x-ray will show detailed images of each of the teeth. However, pregnant women should not have x-rays.
A dentist also uses a probe to check the condition of your gums. The probe is a small ruler that measures your gum pockets to determine if you have gum disease or if your gums are receding. Your gum pockets should be between one and three millimeters when healthy. If the pockets are deeper, this is an indication that you have gum disease.
Dentists check for signs, such as lesions, lumps, and growths in your mouth. The dentist may also perform a gum biopsy to test for cancerous cells. During a biopsy, the dentist takes tissue from growth or lesion and takes it to the lab for cancerous cell tests. If they detect oral cancer, they will request imaging tests, which include CT scan, endoscopy, MRI scan, and X-ray.
Prevention and Treatment of Dental Diseases
Even if you take good care of your teeth, you still need to see a dentist. It is important that you have a dentist clean your teeth professionally twice a year. During the dentist visit, the dentist will recommend any treatment they deem necessary.
Professional cleaning helps remove plaque and tartar that form when you do not adequately brush and floss your teeth. Dentists use a high-powered toothbrush to clean your teeth. Then they floss and rinse your teeth. Other treatments and care options include:
• Fluoride treatment
• Use of antibiotics
• Fillings, crowns, and sealants
• Root canal
• Changing habits, such as biting nails and eating sugary foods
• Oral surgery
Oral surgery is important for serious oral diseases. The dentist may recommend surgery where gum disease affects the bone that surrounds the tooth root. Some of the most common surgery options include bone grafting, tooth extraction, soft tissue grafts, flap surgery, and dental implants.
You need a qualified and experienced dentist to perform the surgery and any other dental procedures. Again, you need to ensure oral diseases are treated in time to avoid tooth abscess, oral cancer, tooth loss, increased risk of diabetes, exposure of the roots, migration of your teeth, and pregnancy complications. Talk to Smile Angels of Beverly Hills for any of the types of oral diseases.