• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Dental Health

Dental health is a part of the healthcare system that is concerned with teeth, gums and mouth. The World Health Organization estimates that 3.5 billion people in the world suffer from dental health problems.

Dental problems can be very painful and can affect other parts of the body as well. It has been linked with conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

Common Dental Health Problems

  1. Dental Cavities: Dental cavities are small holes that form in the teeth. There is a sticky bacteria-containing film on the teeth called plaque.

Plaque is soft at first, and hardens afterwards. If the Plaque isn’t removed when it’s soft then it becomes hard and causes dental cavities.

  1. Toothache: Pain in a tooth is called toothache. Toothache is a symptom of a problem. The problems can range from food stuck between the teeth to a serious infection.

  2. Impacted tooth: This is a condition in which a tooth fails to grow out of the gum.

  3. Cracked or chipped teeth: These conditions are caused by an external injury. A chipped tooth refers to a small part of the tooth that has broken away and a cracked tooth refers to a crack that appears in a tooth.

  4. Gingivitis: A condition in which the gums are inflamed because of plaque. Gingivitis requires treatment as untreated gingivitis can lead to tooth loss.

  5. Pericarditis: This is a condition in which the inflammation in the gums makes them move away from the teeth. This results in small gaps being formed which are filled by pus. It is a serious condition that can cause a lot of pain.

  6. Infections: The mouth is full of bacteria. Some of which are good. However, there are bacteria that can cause infections.

  7. Injuries: External injuries can cause significant dental problems. In most cases, injuries require surgical treatments.

  8. Sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity is called dentinal hypersensitivity. In this condition, the teeth are more sensitive to hot and cold stimuli. Eating foods such as ice cream can cause discomfort.

Oral Cancer: Cancer in any part of the mouth is called oral cancer. Tobacco use is the primary cause of oral cancer.

Symptoms of Dental Problems

  1. Toothache

  2. Chronic Bad Breath

  3. Ulcers

  4. Loose Teeth

  5. Dry Mouth

  6. Bleeding in Gums

  7. Chipped Teeth

  8. Sudden Sensitivity

If you experience any of these symptoms then you should visit a dentist.

Diagnosis of Dental Health Problems

  1. Dental Examination: A thorough dental exam by a dentist reveals a lot of information regarding your dental health. The dentist pays close attention to different parts of the mouth and spots diseased conditions.

X-ray: An X-ray scan is used to spot dental problems. X-rays are one of the most widely used tools by a dentist.

Credits: Pixabay Caption: A dentist showing an X-ray to a patient

  1. Measurement tools: Tools such as probes and rulers are used to measure gum pockets.

  2. Biopsy and CT Scan: In case an oral cancer is suspected, a biopsy and a CT Scan can be used to identify the cancerous portion.

  3. Oral Hygiene Index: The Oral Hygiene Index is a method which classifies the dental health of population groups.

This method has two parts:

  1. The Oral Hygiene Index

  2. The Simplified Oral Hygiene Index

According to the International Journal of Dental and Health Sciences, these methods have been widely used to determine dental public health of population groups.

Treatment for Dental Problems:

  1. Dental Cleanings: Cleanliness is the 1st line of defence against dental problems. Professional cleanings can help remove plaque.

  2. Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat gum infections. Antibiotics are available in topical forms especially for dental use.

  3. Root Canal Treatment: It is a treatment that is used when tooth decay reaches inside to the tooth nerve. This treatment requires multiple sittings with the dentist and usually goes on for a month.

  4. Fillings and Crowns: These are used when parts of the tooth are missing. Fillings are used if the tooth is chipped or missing small fragments from it.

Crowns are used when a large portion of the tooth must be removed.

  1. Fluoride Treatment: Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that prevents tooth decay.

Fluoride is available in two forms:

  1. Topical Fluoride Formulation: These are the products that are applied to the teeth. Examples: Fluoride Gel, Fluoride Foam, and Fluoride pastes.

  2. Systemic Fluoride Formulation: These are the products that act systemically. Examples: Fluoride Tablets, Fluoride Lozenges.

Tooth Extraction: The process of removal of a diseased tooth surgically is known as tooth extraction. If the truth is not responding to treatment then extracting it is an option exercised by dentists.

Credits: Pixabay Caption: A dentist holding a tooth after extraction.

  1. Dental Implants: Dental implants are surgical fixtures which are attached to the jawbone to artificially replace teeth.

Practices to Prevent Dental Problems:

  1. Brushing Teeth Twice a Day: Most individuals brush their teeth once a day but that is not enough. Brushing should be done twice a day to ensure proper cleanliness.

Flossing: A chord of filaments which is used to remove small pieces of food stuck between the teeth. Flossing is very important and should be done at least once a day

Credits: Pixabay Caption: An image illustrating how to floss;

  1. Avoiding Sugar and Acidic Substances: Sugars get converted to acid inside the mouth. Excess presence of acid inside the mouth deteriorates the enamel which is the outer covering of the tooth.

  2. Hydration: Drinking water helps with tooth problems. Water can wash down the acids and food substances that are stuck inside the mouth.

Regular Dental Appointments: Catching dental problems in early stages can be beneficial. The World Health Organization recommends a dental check-up every six months irrespective of the presence of symptoms.

Credits: Pixabay Caption: Regular dental check-ups can detect dental problems in early stages and give more treatment options.

  1. Avoid Tobacco Products: Tobacco products cause many different health problems including many dentaL health problems.

  2. Nutrition: Maintaining proper nutrition is essential for better public dentaL health. A diet which is good for dental health includes high fibre, low fat, and low sugar content.

  3. Tongue Cleaning: Plaque can easily be deposited on the tongue as well. Cleaning the tongue while brushing is necessary.

  4. Using a Mouthwash: A mouthwash is a liquid which is used to rinse the mouth. It is beneficial because it can reach places inside the mouth where it is difficult to reach with a brush.

A mouthwash also contains minerals that are used to remineralise the teeth.

Takeaway

Dental Problems affect almost every second individual in the world. Public dental health is very important and symptoms of dental problems should not be ignored.

There are various treatments available but the emphasis should be made on the prevention of dental problems. Maintaining dental health should be a priority for everyone.

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