Dental Disease

Cavities, gingivitis and gum disease are all forms of dental diseases. Many people do not consider cavities a disease. We are taught at an early age to brush our teeth. We are told what it is important to brush to prevent cavities.  Cavities are bad, you don’t want one of those! Yet, oral health is much more than fresh breath, clean teeth and preventing cavities. It involves the gums and their supporting tissues, the roof of your mouth, the lining of the mouth and throat, the tongue, the lips, the salivary glands, the chewing muscles, the nerves, and the bones of the upper and lower jaws. Recent research has shown the connection between chronic oral infections and diseases like diabetes, dementia, Alzheimers, heart, lung, and kidney disease, stroke, low birth weight or premature births.  In other words, oral health refers to the health of our mouth, which ultimately, supports and reflects the health of the entire body. Causes of Dental Disease The biggest one is poor oral hygiene, when plaque is allowed to sit on your tooth it decalcifies the enamel (the hard surface of the tooth) and weakens the surface and causes inflammation of the surrounding and supportive tissues. The bacteria, acid, food debris and saliva combine to form plaque, which sticks to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities. Cavities permanently damage areas of the surface of your teeth, cavities can be treated and reversed if caught in an early stage. However, once the bacteria have reached the inside layer of the tooth (known as dentin ) structure the cavity has progressed to a stage where it will need to be filled before it causes nerve damage. Once the nerve is damaged it will need a root Canal or it will need to be removed, depending on the severity of the damage. Every day I see patients when I show them a cavity or areas where they have bleeding gums in their mouth say but I don’t feel anything, or nothing hurts. Most people won’t feel it when you have cavities until it is close to the nerve of the tooth and has advanced to a later stage. When it “hurts” it means the disease has advanced to a possibly un-savable state. An untreated cavity can lead to an infection in the tooth called a tooth abscess, an abscess may need a root canal or an extraction. Leaving you with another set of problems or costly replacement options. Dental disease is silent… a tooth can handle a lot of abuse before it breaks down. You don’t feel anything in the early stages because the enamel is the hardest structure in the body. Especially when it comes to cavities, they start out small. When they are on the surface of the enamel they can with the right care stop or be reversed.

The statistics

Although  Dental Disease is preventable, dental caries and periodontal disease are the two biggest threats to oral health and are among the most common chronic diseases in the United States. Dental caries is the most common chronic disease in children: it is about five times as common as asthma and seven times as common as hay fever. The most common cause of tooth loss among adults is untreated periodontal disease. Fifty-three million people live with untreated tooth decay and gi One-quarter of adults aged 65 years and older have lost all of their teeth due to untreated oral disease.

Despite these statistics, the majority of Americans often take oral health for granted.

There are many other unknown complications associated with untreated dental caries and periodontal disease. If dental disease if left untreated, besides pain, it can cause, dysfunction, poor appearance, loss of self-esteem, absence from school or work, and difficulty finding a job or concentrating on daily tasks.3

There is a lack of education surrounding proper dental care. The silent epidemic of oral diseases disproportionately affects disadvantaged communities, especially children, the elderly, and in minority groups. Oral health is worsened, the fact is that if a cavity continues to get bigger it becomes more difficult and costly to fix the longer it remains untreated. Most people fell dentistry it unaffordable so they do nothing. They have no pain so it is not a priority.

Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, difficulty chewing, and other health issues costing us time, money and our health. This is why creating a Healthy Mouth Movement and raising awareness of the link between good oral health and good overall health will help to reduce the alarming statistics associated with oral health and will lead to a healthier happier life. Start from where you are, we are all the product of our experience and knowledge. If you have cavities do not wait until they become a real problem. That is when dental visits are costly and painful. If your mouth is not in pain your wallet will be if you wait. I recommend you visit a dentist for a comprehensive exam and X-rays at least you will know the state and health of your mouth. You will know what you are up against. If you have any disease and can make an informed decision an come up with a plan of how to proceed. You don’t have to get anything done but at least you will know or have a goal. More and more research makes connections between the health of our mouth and the health of our body. Our mouth is the most used part of our body, yet we spend the least amount of time caring for it. Now is the time for a change! We need to make our oral health an important part of our daily routine give it the care it deserves. All dental disease is preventable. What are your thoughts on this? Join my facebook group I would love to hear your thoughts.