Oral health can be affected by disease. The two main diseases are as follows :
Dental caries (tooth decay) - this happens when oral bacteria produces acid that in turn demineralises the tooth surfaces and causes cavities or holes in the teeth.
Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by plaque along the gum line, that inflames the gum causing damage to the tissues and bones that surround and anchor the teeth.
Evidence indicates that both of these diseases can be prevented or at least considerably reduced. Indeed, with the introduction of water fluoridation in the 1960s, there has been large scale reduction of tooth decay in Ireland. Despite this improvement, high levels of tooth decay still exist as a consequence of poor diet and oral hygiene. There are other factors which impact on oral health and well-being including;
- Oral cancer
- Dental trauma (fracture of teeth due to injury)
- Tooth wear (dental erosion, attrition and abrasion)
- Dry mouth
- Mouth ulcers
- Cold sores
- Tooth sensitivity
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Mouth ulcers and lesions may be the first signs of HIV infection.
- Aphthous ulcers may be caused by nutritional problems, such as Vitamin B12 or iron or a sign of Coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease.
- Pale and bleeding gums can be a marker for blood disorders.
- Bone loss in the lower jaw can be an early indicator of skeletal osteoporosis, and changes in tooth appearance can indicate bulimia or anorexia .