Oral health refers to the health of the teeth, gums, and the entire oral-facial system that allows us to smile, speak, and chew. Some of the most common diseases that impact our oral health include cavities (tooth decay), gum (periodontal) disease, and oral cancer.
Oral diseases are caused by a range of modifiable risk factors, including sugar consumption, tobacco use, alcohol use and poor hygiene, and their underlying social and commercial determinants.
- Poor Oral Hygiene: Not brushing your teeth regularly between meals allows a sticky film of bacteria known as plaque to form and build up on your teeth.
- Plaque Formation: The plaque adheres to your teeth and continues to build up and harden over time, often turning into a more resistant substance called tartar.
- Bacteria: Bacteria naturally live in our mouth and like to hide in our teeth and gums. When harmful bacteria digest the carbohydrates that linger inside the mouth, acid forms to remove essential minerals from the tooth enamel.
- Chronic Dry Mouth: The minerals in your saliva help the enamel repair itself by replacing minerals lost during an acid attack.
- Poor Diet: Frequent snacking on foods high in sugar increases the amount of time your teeth are exposed to the dissolving effects of various acids, which make them more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
- Smoking & Tobacco Use: Tobacco use raises your risk for gum disease, including severe gum disease called periodontitis. Smoking weakens your body’s immune system, thus making it considerably less effective in fighting off infections such as gum and tooth infections.
- Medical Problems: Some types of cancer treatment that expose the head and neck to radiation can promote a tooth cavity by changing the makeup of the saliva to promote increased bacterial growth.
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