What Causes Dental and Oral Diseases?
Neglecting your oral health, diet, personal habits and tobacco are the main causes of mouth, tooth, and gum problems.
- Cavities-Tooth Decay & Gum Disease: The bacteria that are normally found in the mouth constantly multiply on your teeth. When these bacteria build up, they form a sticky substance called “plaque”. This is the main cause of dental and periodontal problems. These bacteria produce acids which destroy tooth enamel and infect gum tissue.
One’s eating habits play a big role in the prevention of all tooth decay and periodontal, gum and bone disease. When certain foods, (all sugars and carbohydrates), are ingested by these bacteria they produce an “acid” byproduct. This acid is produced for up to 20 minutes after ingestion, such as a single “sip” of a sugar containing soft drink or a “single bite” of a cracker! A diet high in sugar and starch will eventually result in dental problems. It is also important to keep your “exposure” times down to a minimum. Frequent “nibbling” on snacks or “sipping” on coffee or other sugary drinks keeps your mouth constantly being bathed by this acid.
Using tobacco increases the risk of developing gum and bone disease. Smoking and chewing tobacco contributes to plaque and tartar buildup as well as oral cancer.
Lack of fluoridated water can also promote tooth decay. Fluoride is a substance found in nature that strengthens teeth. Most water systems are fluoridated.
- Abcessed Tooth: When the nerve of a tooth is badly damaged either from trauma or severe tooth decay, it cannot “heal” or repair itself.
The most common causes of “nerve” damage are severe deep tooth decay or a cracked or fractured tooth. This infection usually causes an abscess at the end of the tooth’s root.
- Injured Teeth: Cracked or broken teeth.
Cracked teeth are often times caused by personal habits such as biting pens, chewing hard items like ice or popcorn kernels, or using your teeth as a tool.
Grinding or clenching your teeth (bruxing), can cause cracked teeth, especially where there are existing fillings. Most people grind their teeth and are totally unaware of it. Stress contributes to teeth grinding as well as an irregular biting surface of the teeth (abnormal bite). Teeth grinding can also be caused by sleep disorders, certain medication, alcohol and caffeine.
Accidents are a big cause of injury to teeth. To attempt to save a tooth that has been knocked out, rinse it off and place it in a cup of milk. Get to the dentist immediately! Chances are good that the tooth can be re-implanted and saved.
The two main causes of oral cancer are tobacco products and alcohol. The longer you use tobacco the greater the risk, and the greater the exposure to alcohol the greater the risk. Also, exposure to the sun without a sun block can cause cancer of the lip.
You can lower your risk of having dental problems by preventing them before they start. Change habits that put you at risk. Have regular dental exams and follow the advice of your dentist.