Ways To Prevent Oral Diseases
Teeth, especially molars and pre-molars, contain fissures on the ‘chewing’ surfaces. Plaque can easily accumulate in fissures which the bristles of the toothbrush cannot reach, thus making teeth prone to caries.
1. Fissure Sealants
Fissure sealants are tooth-colored resins to seal off deep fissures on the surfaces of these back teeth.
Sealants stick to the enamel and prevent plaque from settling.
Fissure sealants are usually used on children with permanent molars that are identified as prone to caries. Sealants, together with proper brushing and diet control, help to prevent decay from starting within the deep fissures of teeth.
The application of sealants is easy and painless. No cutting of the tooth is required. The tooth is cleaned, treated, dried and the sealant applied.
Fluoride prevents caries by:
- Reducing the solubility of tooth enamel in acid.
- Reducing acid production by plaque bacteria.
- Promoting repair of enamel in areas that have been demineralized (dissolved) by acids.
Sources of fluoride
- Drinking water is the most common source of fluoride. Natural fluoride concentration in the water supply is adjusted to an optimum level for dental health. Globally, 317 million people in 39 countries benefit from adjusted water fluoride levels, while 40 million live in naturally fluoridated areas. Water fluoridation is endorsed by major international dental, medical and scientific organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Food, like tea leaves and certain sea foods contain fluoride.
- Most oral health care products, like toothpaste, mouth rinse and dental floss, contain a varying amount of fluoride. Research has shown that daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste reduces dental caries by about 30 percent. A young child should only use a pea-size amount of children’s toothpaste, which contains a lower concentration of fluoride. Excessive ingestion of fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis, resulting in white patches on newly erupted permanent teeth. Children under the age of six should not use fluoride mouth rinses to avoid accidental ingestion.
- Topical fluoride application can be carried out by a dentist. A fluoride-containing solution or gel is applied to strengthen teeth that are susceptible to decay.
3. Regular Visit To The Dentist
Early stages of many oral diseases, like caries and gum disease, have no obvious symptoms. The dentist can, however, detect such conditions during routine examinations and provide treatment. Routine examinations also help in diagnosing and treating more serious oral conditions, such as oral cancers.
Advice and care
A dentist can provide professional advice specific to one’s oral health condition. These include:
- Recording current oral health condition.
- Providing suggestions on improving oral health care, such as tooth-brushing techniques, flossing and care of dentures.
- Drawing up a plan to reduce sugar intake and encourage a well-balanced diet for a healthier mouth and lifestyle.
- Explaining and implementing a treatment plan.
A dentist can routinely carry out preventive treatment – scaling, polishing of teeth, application of fissure sealant or topical fluoride – to help prevent common dental diseases.
How often should you visit the dentist?
Ideally, you should see a dentist twice yearly, but, for most people, an annual check-up is adequate if there are no obvious dental problems. However, for those with high risks or special needs, a check-up every six months may be necessary.
People with high risk or of special needs include:
Mentally-challenged individuals may have difficulty maintaining a basic level of oral hygiene. They are very prone to gum disease and caries.
Patients who have undergone radiotherapy in the head and neck region
During radiotherapy, normal oral tissues are affected. The treatment may give rise to dry mouth and inflammation of the oral mucosa due to a decrease in saliva flow. This can often lead to caries and gum disease.
Research has shown that the risk of smokers developing gum disease is five times higher than that of non-smokers. Quit smoking now!
Patients with disabling oral diseases
Patients with oral tumors or cleft palate need frequent examinations to maintain oral health.
Patients with systemic diseases
The immunity of patients with diabetes, hemophilia or AIDS is generally compromised, leading to lower resistance to bacterial infections. If their oral hygiene is poor, dental plaque on tooth surfaces will easily result in periodontal diseases.
Patients with medical disorders should routinely inform their dentist of their condition, the medications they are taking and treatment they are receiving. This will aid their dentist in drawing up a treatment plan that is effective and safe.
Good oral health results in a healthier mouth, an attractive smile, a fitter body and a confident individual. With a little effort, you can have a life-time of healthy smiles!