How can one achieve oral hy­giene?

Daily Trust - - HEALTH - health­in­ter­ac­tive@hot­mail.com

Per­mit me a space in your weekly col­umn to ask about oral hy­giene and health. Shed some light about it and the pre­ven­tive mea­sures.

K B. N.

Thanks for your ques­tion and let me start by pro­vid­ing some ba­sic in­for­ma­tion about oral health. It is a state of be­ing free from mouth and fa­cial pain, oral and throat can­cer, oral in­fec­tion and sores, pe­ri­odon­tal (gum) dis­ease, tooth de­cay, tooth loss, and other dis­eases and dis­or­ders that limit an in­di­vid­ual’s ca­pac­ity in bit­ing, chew­ing, smil­ing, speak­ing, and psy­choso­cial well­be­ing.

Oral dis­eases and con­di­tions

The most com­mon oral dis­eases are dental cav­i­ties, pe­ri­odon­tal (gum) dis­ease, oral can­cer, oral in­fec­tious dis­eases, trauma from in­juries, and hered­i­tary le­sions.

1. Dental cav­i­ties: World­wide, 60-90% of school chil­dren and nearly 100% of adults have dental cav­i­ties, of­ten lead­ing to pain and dis­com­fort.

2. Pe­ri­odon­tal dis­ease: Se­vere pe­ri­odon­tal (gum) dis­ease, which may re­sult in tooth loss, is found in 15-20% of mid­dle-aged (35-44 years) adults.

3. Tooth loss: Dental cav­i­ties and pe­ri­odon­tal dis­ease are ma­jor causes of tooth loss. Com­plete loss of nat­u­ral teeth is wide­spread and par­tic­u­larly af­fects older peo­ple.

4. Oral can­cer: The preva­lence of oral can­cer is rel­a­tively higher in men, in older peo­ple, and among peo­ple of low ed­u­ca­tion and low in­come. To­bacco and al­co­hol are ma­jor causal fac­tors.

5. Fun­gal, bac­te­rial or vi­ral in­fec­tions in HIV: Al­most half (4050%) of peo­ple who are HIV-pos­i­tive have oral fun­gal, bac­te­rial or vi­ral in­fec­tions. These of­ten oc­cur early in the course of HIV in­fec­tion. 6. Oro-dental trauma due to ac­ci­dents, or vi­o­lence. 7. Noma is a gan­grenous le­sion that af­fects young chil­dren liv­ing in ex­treme poverty pri­mar­ily in Africa and Asia. Le­sions are se­vere gin­gi­val dis­ease fol­lowed by necro­sis (pre­ma­ture death of cells in liv­ing tis­sue) of lips and chin.

8. Cleft lip and palate. Birth de­fects such as cleft lip and palate.

Com­mon causes

Risk fac­tors for oral dis­eases in­clude an un­healthy diet, to­bacco use and harm­ful al­co­hol use. These are also risk fac­tors for the four lead­ing chronic dis­eases; car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, can­cer, chronic res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases and di­a­betes. Oral dis­eases are of­ten linked to chronic dis­eases. Poor oral hy­giene is also a risk fac­tor for oral dis­ease.

The preva­lence of oral dis­ease varies by ge­o­graph­i­cal re­gion, and avail­abil­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of oral health ser­vices. So­cial de­ter­mi­nants in oral health are also very strong. The preva­lence of oral dis­eases is in­creas­ing in low- and mid­dle-in­come coun­tries. And in all coun­tries, the oral dis­ease bur­den is sig­nif­i­cantly higher among poor and dis­ad­van­taged pop­u­la­tion groups.

Preven­tion and treat­ment

1. De­creas­ing su­gar in­take and main­tain­ing a well-bal­anced nu­tri­tional in­take to pre­vent tooth de­cay and pre­ma­ture tooth loss.

2. Con­sum­ing fruit and veg­eta­bles that can pro­tect against oral can­cer.

3. Stop­ping to­bacco use and de­creas­ing al­co­hol con­sump­tion to re­duce the risk of oral can­cers, pe­ri­odon­tal dis­ease and tooth loss. 4. En­sur­ing proper oral hy­giene. 5. Us­ing pro­tec­tive sports and mo­tor ve­hi­cle equip­ment to re­duce the risk of fa­cial in­juries.

6. Dental cav­i­ties can be pre­vented by main­tain­ing a con­stant low level of flu­o­ride in the oral cav­ity. Flu­o­ride can be ob­tained from flu­o­ri­dated drink­ing wa­ter, salt, milk and tooth­paste, as well as from pro­fes­sion­allyap­plied flu­o­ride or mouth rinse.

7. Most oral dis­eases and con­di­tions re­quire pro­fes­sional dental care, how­ever, due to lim­ited avail­abil­ity or in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity, the use of oral health ser­vices is markedly low among older peo­ple, peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas, and peo­ple with low in­come and ed­u­ca­tion.

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