Good oral hygiene helps to prevent dental problems - mainly plaque and calculus which are the main causes of gum disease and caries (tooth decay). Dental plaque is a soft whitish deposit that forms on the surface of teeth. It forms when bacteria (germs) combine with food and saliva. Plaque contains many types of bacteria. You can remove plaque by good oral hygiene.
Calculus, sometimes called tartar, is hardened calcified plaque. It sticks firmly to teeth. Generally, it can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist with special instruments.
Caries (tooth decay) is when holes form in parts of the enamel of a tooth. A main cause of caries is due to a build up of plaque. The bacteria in the plaque react with sugars and starches in food to form acids. The acids are kept next to the teeth by the sticky plaque and 'dissolve' the tooth enamel. If you have tooth decay you may need fillings, crowns or inlays.
Gum disease (periodontal disease) means infection or inflammation of the tissues that surround the teeth. Most cases of gum disease are plaque-related. Plaque contains many different types of bacteria and a build up of some types of bacteria are associated with developing gum disease. Depending on the severity,gum disease is generally divided into two types - gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. There are various types. However, most cases of gingivitis are caused by plaque.
Periodontitis occurs if gingivitis becomes worse and progresses to involve the tissue that joins the teeth to the gums (the periodontal membrane).
While the eyes may be the window to the soul, your mouth is a window to your body's health. The state of your oral health can offer lots of clues about your overall health. Oral health and overall health are more connected than you might realize.
Your oral health is connected to many other health conditions beyond your mouth. Sometimes the first sign of a disease shows up in your mouth. In other cases, infections in your mouth, such as gum disease, can cause problems in other areas of your body. Learn more about this intimate connection between oral health and overall health.
Your mouth is normally teeming with bacteria. Usually you can keep these bacteria under control with good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing. Saliva is also a key defense against bacteria and viruses. It contains enzymes that destroy bacteria in different ways. But harmful bacteria can sometimes grow out of control and lead to periodontitis, a serious gum infection.
When your gums are healthy, bacteria in your mouth usually don't enter your bloodstream. However, gum disease may provide bacteria a port of entry into your bloodstream. Sometimes invasive dental treatments can also allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. And medications or treatments that reduce saliva flow or disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth may also lead to oral changes, making it easier for bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Some researchers believe that these bacteria and inflammation from your mouth are linked to other health problems in the rest of your body.
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