We all know that not adhering to dental hygiene can harm your teeth. But what a great many don’t consider are the risks to oral health in general. Discoloured or sensitive teeth may be the start, but gum disease, infection and other symptoms can result in some instances too.
World Oral Health Day takes place on the 20th March, and aims to help smiles stay healthy by raising awareness around these issues.
The majority of adults in the UK are no stranger to gum disease - over half will encounter the condition at some stage in their lives. Recognising signs early on and taking measures to combat them is vital in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Below I’ve assembled a brief timeline of poor oral health symptoms, and a guide on how to stop them:
Yellowing or Stained Teeth
The most recognisable early sign that problems are afoot. Teeth begin to turn yellow when the top layer, or enamel, begins to wear away, and the layer underneath (dentin) begins to show through. This may come about for a number of reasons, such as: not brushing properly or regularly enough; or consuming excessive amounts of sugary food, or fizzy drinks. Teeth can also become stained from cigarette smoke.
Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Halitosis may be a symptom of gum disease, but it can also happen before infection takes hold. Bacteria in the mouth can react with leftover food and plaque when it is caught between teeth, resulting in the production of a odorous gas, which causes what we know as bad breath.
When bacteria in plaque begins to spread to the gums, patches of inflammation begin to appear, and bleeding may occur when brushing or flossing. Pain not always be present at this stage, so it is important to keep an eye out for areas of redness or swelling.
This is where pain and lasting damage may set in. Infections upon reaching this stage generally tend to become worse, leading to the formation of pockets of pus in the gums, called abscesses. Teeth may also start to become loose, and eventually fall out.
Better oral health is all about consistency. Brushing twice a day and flossing your teeth regularly is the foundation of this. Your dentist may also suggest using an interdental toothbrush if there are gaps in between your teeth that your standard brush cannot reach.
Managing dietary habits can help too. Put a cap on sugary treats. Fizzy drink consumption should be kept at sensible levels; and if you do drink carbonated beverages, don’t brush your teeth immediately afterwards, as this may even further erode your enamel. Stopping smoking can also reduce gum inflammation and teeth staining.
And finally, regular dental checkups are a must if you want your mouth to stay healthy. Visiting once every six months will help you and your dentist to nip any potential problems in the bud.