December 16, 2022
Your teeth do more than just make your smile look beautiful. Without your pearly whites, it would be impossible to enjoy your favorite foods or even speak clearly. Unfortunately, there are some common health problems that not only affect your teeth, but your entire mouth. The good news is that once you are aware of them, you can be even more proactive about your oral health. Here are the three most common oral health issues and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Tooth Decay
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 80% of people have had at least one cavity by age 34. Tooth decay occurs when the enamel that provides protection is gradually broken down. This is usually due to harmful oral bacteria that gradually builds up in your mouth. When these bacteria feed on carbohydrates (simple sugars and starches), they produce acids that create cavities.
What can you do to protect your teeth from decay? Here’s a few tips:
- Good Oral Hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once each day to remove plaque, food debris, and bacteria from your mouth.
- Watch Your Sugar Intake: Moderation is key when it comes to the sweet stuff. Limiting your consumption of sugar decreases your chances of tooth decay.
- Use Fluoride: The most important ingredient to look for is fluoride when choosing a toothpaste. This helps to protect your enamel from decay.
- Visit Your Dentist: Your biannual visits allow your dentist to clean the plaque and tartar that are hard to reach yourself.
2. Periodontal (Gum) Disease
While gum disease is very preventable, approximately half of U.S. adults who are over the age of 30 are suffering from some stage of it. This condition is when the tissues that hold your teeth into place become infected, usually due to poor oral hygiene. Initial symptoms are usually mild, like swelling and occasional bleeding. Over time, though, gum disease can cause the soft tissues and bone holding the teeth in place to weaken. If the issue goes untreated, you risk possibly losing your pearly whites, as well as the infection spreading into the body.
In addition to the tips listed above, be sure to also avoid tobacco products.
3. Oral Cancer
In the United States alone, there are about 54,000 new cases of oral cancer every year. While smoking and excessive alcohol use are common risk factors for oral cancer, almost anyone can suffer from the disease. Early detection is vital in protecting yourself! During your regular checkups, your dentist can perform an oral cancer screening and check for any abnormalities. Patients who are diagnosed with oral cancer before it has a chance to spread will have a much more favorable prognosis.
While oral health problems can occur, you can do your part to protect your smile! With proactive care and regular visits to your dentist, you will keep your teeth and gums in tip-top condition for years to come.
About the Author
Dr. Darrick Castleberry is eager to help you keep your smile whole and healthy! As a dentist with the United States Marines, he maintained the oral health of over 3,200 Marines and Sailors. He was awarded several medals for his service, including The Navy Achievement Medal. Earning the nickname “Painless” from his fellow Marines because he erased all their dental fears, he has transferred that same approach to his dental patients in Louetta. To schedule an appointment for any of his broad range of services, contact him through his website or call (281) 320-9600.
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