The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated 2 billion people suffer from caries of permanent teeth and 514 million children suffer from caries of primary teeth. We service and MOT our cars on a regular basis, so why don’t we get our teeth checked regularly?
As we age, people worry about their general health and forget about oral health, until one has toothache. If dental pain is left untreated, tooth prognosis is uncertain and could lead to tooth loss. Tooth loss in older adults has been linked to cognitive impairment (also known as memory loss).
So how can we prevent tooth loss? A dental examination would involve screening for oral cancer, checking the health of your gums and teeth as well as taking x-rays. The Oral Health Foundation state around 8864 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year. Contributing factors include lifestyle choices of alcohol and smoking consumption as well as a high calorific diet with added sugars.
What are teeth made of and how can we look after our smile?
The outer layer of teeth is called enamel. Although stronger than bone, enamel is under frequent attack when we eat and drink. Not everyone’s enamel is the same strength as we are all genetically different. Our genes can determine our susceptibility to tooth decay and periodontal disease, but our lifestyle is a major factor to a stable health mouth.
Lifestyle including exercise and a healthy diet contributes to maintaining good oral health. When it comes to diet, reducing the frequency of intake and amount of cariogenic foods and drinks such as white bread, sweetened cereals and sugary drinks will help in the prevention of caries.
Brushing for two minutes, twice a day is a good start but you are only cleaning 3/5’s of each tooth. Cleaning in between on a daily basis using a waterpik, tepes and floss is key to cleaning the remaining 2/5’s of your teeth.
Plaque starts to form within hours of the newly cleaned tooth surface. This is all because of the oral bacteria (over 1000 different types of bacteria are found in plaque) mixing with foods and oral debris. If this plaque is not removed, then it will allow dental caries to develop.
Using a fluoride toothpaste twice a day will help to strengthen your teeth. In 1964, fluoride was added to water supplies across the UK at the optimum concentration of 1ppm.
Regular dental examinations allow the dentist to spot early onsets of dental diseases. Plaque not only sits above the gum line on the teeth but it can also go under the gum, which can only be removed by professional cleaning. If the plaque is not removed from below the gum it may lead to a periodontal disease called periodontitis. The bacteria that form with periodontitis have been linked to coronary artery disease and controlling blood sugar in diabetes.
Not many people realise that factors like hormonal changes, medical conditions and certain medicines can affect the oral cavity. The dental team can give you advice on how to control these factors, and instruct you on effective cleaning techniques.
So, if you haven't been to the dentist in a while, or you have any concerns, why not make an appointment with your dentist because a healthy smile is the only smile you need.