By Deborah Pinnock on Apr 4, 2018 @ 10:06 AM
A warm smile to a customer’s compliment. Laughing at jokes while out with friends. An exciting yell when you realize the bulges in your arm are actually muscles due to your new exercise regimen. And then there’s eating your favorite foods and tasting the amazing flavors. Your mouth makes all these possible. It helps you interact with others confidently, eat, speak and more. That’s why it’s important to know the most common dental health issues and take steps to protect this important asset.
What could possibly be wrong with fudge, chocolate cake or apple pie? They’re delicious but these sweet treats can leave a bitter taste in your mouth. The problem? Cavities. Studies show that 18 percent or higher of mature adults 65 years and older, have untreated decay. It is also the number one chronic condition, which affects children in the United States.
Here’s a quick Dental 101 lesson on cavities. Your teeth are covered by an invisible, sticky film called plaque. When you eat foods or beverages high in sugar or carbohydrates, the bacteria in plaque releases an acid which ends up attacking the outer surface of the tooth. This is known as the enamel. If this attack continues, over time, the enamel will begin to breakdown and the acid will begin eating away the tooth, creating a hole (called a cavity). If not treated, this can lead to an abscess or an infection, which in rare cases, can be fatal.
Continue to brush and floss two to three times a day
Eat healthy (Go easy on the sugar and high carb meals)
Visit a dentist often for exams and professional cleanings
Periodontal disease is another common dental health issue. In fact, 47.2 percent of adults age 30 and older have periodontal disease in some form. And because this disease increases with age, 70.1 percent of adults who are age 65 and older have the disease.The cause of this condition goes back to pesky plaque. If it is not removed by brushing and flossing daily, it can cause your gums to become inflamed. The gums will eventually pull away from the tooth, creating little pockets which house even more bacteria. If left unchecked, this process will damage the bone that supports the tooth, causing them to be loose and eventually fall out. In addition to poor oral hygiene, conditions like diabetes and a weakened immune system can increase the risk of gum disease. Not a pretty picture.
- Brush and floss two to three times a day (You know the drill – no pun intended)
- Visit your dentist for exams and professional cleanings
- Get tips from the hygienist on how to brush and floss properly
- Stop smoking or chewing tobacco, if you do (as this increases risk)
According to 2018 statistics from the American Cancer Society, about 51,540 people will get some form of oral cancer. They believe that 10,030 people will die of these cancers. The average age at which people are diagnosed is age 62 but this does not mean that younger people can’t be affected. And while more men than women have this type of cancer, it doesn’t mean women can’t get it. Causes include inheriting certain genes, which can’t be avoided. There are other risks that can be decreased based on behavior. Fortunately, over the last 30 years, the death rate for these types of cancers are decreasing.You will often find oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancers in the following areas:
- The gums, floor of the mouth and other areas of the mouth
- The oropharynx and tonsils
- The tongue
- Salivary glands (roof of the mouth)
Here are some risk factors that can increase the chances of this condition:
- Smoking cigarettes and tobacco use (considered the most important but avoidable cause)
- Alcohol consumption
- Diet low in beta-carotene
Early detection is important for any form of cancer. Some dental insurance plans even have an oral cancer screening wellness program, available at a minimal or no cost. Take advantage of these programs.
Your mouth may be a small part of your body but it is important and needs to be protected. Not only does it affect your ability to smile and interact confidently with others but it affects your overall health. Therefore, it’s vital to be aware of the most common dental health issues and take steps to protect yourself. Do your part by brushing and flossing two to three times daily. Get a comprehensive dental plan that will make preventive care, like routine cleanings and exams free of cost. And if you must get other major services, your coverage makes it affordable.