Oral health is essential to general health and quality of life. It is a state of being fee from mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases or disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial wellbeing.
Unfortunately, optimal oral health is the exception rather than the norm. As a dentist in Portland, OR, I see common oral diseases and conditions on a daily basis. According to the World Health Organization, 60%-90% of school children worldwide have dental cavities. 15%-20% of middle-aged adults have severe gum disease, which often leads to tooth loss. And 30% of people aged 65-74 have no natural teeth. The most common oral diseases and conditions are dental cavities and periodontal or gum disease. Nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities which, if left untreated, lead to pain, discomfort and infection. Periodontal disease is the destruction of the bone and gums that support teeth, which can result in tooth loss. Dental cavities and periodontal disease are the two major causes of tooth loss. Other less common oral diseases and conditions are oral cancer, which affects 1 to 10 people per 100,000 in most countries, and Noma, which is a gangrenous lesion that affects young children living in extreme poverty primarily in Africa and Asia.
The good news is that oral diseases and other chronic diseases can be decreased simultaneously by addressing common risk factors. These include decreasing sugar intake, maintaining a well-balanced nutritional diet, stopping tobacco use, and decreasing alcohol consumption. These steps, along with good oral hygiene habits of brushing and flossing and regular visits to the dentist, can significantly increase your chances of having an optimally healthy smile. If it has been longer than 6 months since you have seen a dentist, please call our office today at 503-629-8005.