- Fact: In reality, gum disease is extremely common. This is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. The disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on the teeth.
We bring you the sixth part of the oral health myths series and their related facts.
Myth 1: Gum disease is not common.
Fact: In reality, gum disease is extremely common. This is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. The disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on the teeth.
Meanwhile plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.
In Tanzania the most common oral disease is gum disease affecting 80%-94% of the studied population. Generally, almost half of the adults aged 30 years and above have some form of gum disease.
As individuals get older, they naturally become more at risk of infections, including their gums. Consequently, 64 percent of adults aged 65 years and above have either moderate or severe gum disease. Early gum disease usually does not cause pain. Usually, the common warning sign is bleeding on simple tooth brushing. Visit your dentist even if you do not have pain yet.
Myth 2: Bad breath is a sign of gum disease
Fact: The condition occurs in everyone. Bad breath tends to get worse and more frequent as one gets old. Although bad breath is a sign of gum disease, it is also a sign of other potential health issues. To be sure, consult a professional for evaluation.
Bad breath can be a sign or symptom of various mouth localised or general medical conditions such as cavities, advanced sores from various conditions especially cancer, dry mouth and unclean artificial teeth. It could also be a symptom of acid reflux, a bowel obstruction or some other digestive issues.
On the other hand, a dry mouth is usually inevitable during sleep, resulting into unpleasant smell of the mouth in the morning. During sleep salivary glands functions slow down reducing fresh saliva flow while resident bacteria in the mouth overgrow and flourish releasing their by-products that result into the common bad smell. Cigarette smoking and the use of other tobacco products have a propensity to dry out the mouth more often also causing bad breath.
Other pathological conditions that may be associated with bad smell may originate from the mouth’s neighbouring structures such as ears, nose, throat, or from distant structures namely gastrointestinal tract and the liver. Also some lung conditions have been associated with bad breath.
Myth 3: Gum disease is a bacterial infection and antibiotics can be used to treat it.
Fact: Antibiotics can be a helpful addition to treating gum disease. However, the overuse of antibiotics could resut in the development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. The best option again is to consult a professional.
Myth:4 Dental cavities are the number-one cause of tooth loss.
Fact: Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults. Gum disease is a more critical oral health concern than tooth decay.
Myth 5: Gum disease is easy to identify even at its early stages.
Fact: Millions of people do not know they have serious gum infection that can lead to tooth loss if not treated. One should consult a dentist for check up so that problems are detected in the early stages. The most important step is for one to be aware of their gums health status.
Myth 6: Gum disease treatment is painful.
Fact: Different local pain controlling techniques such as local anesthesia, sedation techniques and pain controlling medications, have made things easier. Many patients get back to their normal routines on the same day or the following day.
Myth 7: Women may ignore bleeding gums during pregnancy
Fact: Some pregnant women may experience a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis. The condition does not occur in all women, though. A pregnant woman is advised to make oral health a priority through regular teeth brushing, flossing and consulting an oral health professional for checkups and professional cleaning.
Using fluoridated toothpaste is very important for preventing cavities, gum disease and bad breath. Recognising the importance of oral health and overall health improves the pregnant woman’s quality of life.
The author is a lecturer of Denstistry at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org