What you need to know about oral hygiene

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By Muraya Kamunde

Oral health is the absence of disease and the optimal functioning of the mouth and its tissues. Good oral health is associated with general body health. The World Health Organisation describes oral health as, “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 well-being.”

The most common causes of oral disease are an unhealthy diet, tobacco use and excessive consumption of alcohol.

Gum Disease

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The gum is the soft tissue in the mouth that helps in holding the teeth. There are several gum related diseases; gingivitis and periodontitis.

The difference between periodontitis and gingivitis

 Periodontitis is a common gum disease that infects the gum and destroys the soft tissues and the bone that support the teeth. It is a common and preventable oral disease, usually occurring among adults.  Men run a higher risk of being infected than women because men have worse indicators of periodontal health than women.

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Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums due to an excess of plaque on the teeth. If gingivitis is not treated, it may lead to periodontitis. Gingivitis is more likely to occur among children.

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Facts about Periodontitis and Gingivitis

  1. Gum disease, especially among pregnant, may lead to preterm babies ( babies born before 37 weeks) and the birth of underweight babies. It may also cause bleeding gums in pregnant women.
  2. In most girls and women, hormonal changes make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gum disease to develop.
  3. According to the National Oral Health Survey Report 2015, the report found that gingival inflammation was the most common at 98.1%.
  4. According to the same report, gingival inflammation was found to be high in both males and females at 98.4% and 97.7% respectively.
  5. Smoking and malnourishment are the most common factors that cause periodontitis.
  6. Bad breath which is caused by accumulating bacteria, swollen gums, bleeding gums, loose teeth and sensitive teeth are signs of periodontal disease.
  7. Avoiding tobacco products and regular brushing of teeth are the most effective ways of preventing gum disease.
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8. Lastly, gum disease is mostly painless therefore checkups should be done regularly.

Listen to the experts talk about oral hygiene in the video below.

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