Oral hygiene and overall health
Teeth are major components of the human body and serve some purposes. However, two major conditions emerge as a threat to healthy teeth. That includes decay as well as periodontal diseases. Ideally, every person’s mouth has a handful of bacteria. The bacteria in the mouth utilize any component of sugar to create acids in our mouth. Ultimately, the acid is harmful to our teeth. They can create decay, and that might result to cavities over a period. The presence of mucus leads to the formation of a plaque on teeth. Failure to remove such a plague makes it harder and form tartar. Brushing alone cannot rectify the condition (Gohil, 2016). That calls for the service of a dental health professional. In most instance, it is costly, and most people cannot afford it. Hence, some people could not afford a healthy smile. Constant stay of both plague and tartar increases their effects on the oral health of a person. Moreover, their advancement can result in the extraction of the affected teeth. Gingivitis emerges due to the inflammation of the gums. Still, such bacteria are responsible. Ultimately, gingivitis is one of the forms of gum diseases. Failure to perform early treatment results to periodontitis and that has a serious effect on oral health (Donley, 2012). It is imperative to provide more insight into oral hygiene since our mouth forms an important component of our heath. Poor oral hygiene affects individuals in different ways. The research explores the relationship between oral hygiene and overall health.
Importance of oral hygiene
There exist some diet-related diseases in the world. Dental decay not only affects the heath of individuals across the globe but also exist as the second most harmful diet-related disease in the entire world. Moreover, it has an economic impact compared to other diseases such as diabetes and heart complications. Governments from various nations spend a lot of money on the same. A case study of Australia indicates that the government of the region spent $6.1 billion on dental services from 2007 to 2008 (World Health Organization, 2013). That constitute close to 6.2% of the total health care expenditure. Despite such measures by the government to curb the menace, oral health remains a major health problem in most parts of the world. Currently, it is imperative to include oral health when designing the overall national health strategies. There is a need to natural teeth from decay as well as free from the periodontal diseases. That calls for early detection as well as prevention of the condition. Shea (2012) posits that the diseases have a clear relationship to the general health of individuals across the globe. Hence, they extend from being the complication of the mouth and have a diverse effect on the lives of people in different spheres. Additionally, the evidence from population-based studies during the past two decades posit an increasingly points to a robust relationship between oral health status and severe major chronic diseases. Some of the complications include the respiratory diseases and stroke. Additionally, oral cancer emerges as one of the predominant complication due to poor oral hygiene (Gohil, 2016). Mostly, it occurs due to the use of mouthwash that contains some element of alcohol. Therefore, it is imperative a clear understanding between oral health and overall health of an individual. Furthermore, it is evident from the statistics that oral hygiene has a clear relationship with the health of an individual. That extends to the economic wellbeing of a nation since most governments spend a lot on health annually.
Importance of dental hygiene
According to Lee et al. (2012), maintaining healthy teeth does not entirely describe the importance or oral health. Oral health concerns with keeping the health of the craniofacial complex, teeth, and gums as well as the tissues of the face and head that surround the mouth. Oral, dental, and craniofacial diseases and conditions include tooth loss, diminished salivary functions, oral-facial pain, as well as functional limitations of prosthetic replacements. These oral health impairments can diminish social interactions, self-esteem, and self-image and have a drastic effect on quality of life. Oral, dental, as well as craniofacial diseases and conditions disproportionately, affect the elderly. Frail elders are particularly vulnerable to increased morbidity due to oral infections.
The first Surgeon Generals on oral health in the United States was a landmark document that emphasized the interaction between oral health and general health. Lack of awareness of the links between oral health and overall health status affects health care decisions on an individual, provider, and policy level (Griffin et al., 2012). This broader focus on oral health reflects a bio-psychosocial model and creates new opportunities to promote interdisciplinary partnership among oral health providers and medical health providers. The primary factors that determine oral and general health are individual biology and genetics. Moreover, the environmental factors include physical and socioeconomic aspects such as personal behaviour and lifestyle, access to care, and the organization of health care. These factors interact over the life span and determine the health of individuals, population groups, as well as communities.
Aging is not a disease. However, it enhances susceptibility to diseases. The common chronic diseases that affect older adults and medications and treatments to alleviate these conditions can affect the health of the oral cavity. People who have physical or functional disabilities are at greater risk for oral diseases. Like medical illness, dental conditions have substantial behavioural, cultural, as well as social components. Adults over the age of 65 have the highest proportion of out-of-pocket dental expenses (Rosenstiel, Land & Fujimoto, 2015). Moreover, Medical and Medicare dental coverage are virtually non-existence. These structural weaknesses in the health care system adversely affect access to care. Conversely, oral health problems can affect overall health. People with diabetes and heart diseases are at a greater risk for oral infections associated with periodontal diseases. The mouth reflects general health as well as well-being. Many chronic diseases have oral manifestations, which may be the initial signs of clinical illness. All of these factors interact and determine the oral and general health of older adults.
The emerging question in the contemporary world is the importance of oral heath in ensuring a healthy life. Ideally, oral health plays a significant role in the nutrition of older adults. The elderly are at increased risk for developing nutritional disorders. Additionally, the nutritional deficiencies have oral signs and symptoms. The oral-facial pain caused by infection or salivary dysfunction mat adversely affect food and fluid intake (Fejerskov et al., 2013). Consequently, the oral cavity is a portal of the entrance as well as the site of infection for microbial infections that affect general health status. Immune-compromised elders and nursing home elders are at greater risk for general morbidity due to oral diseases (Darby & Walsh, 2014). Oral diseases give rise to pathogens that can become blood borne or aspirated into the lungs, leading to life-threatening conditions. Ultimately, many medications taken to treat systemic conditions can adversely affect the oral cavity and its functions. Polypharmacy is prevalent in the elderly and associated with nutritional deficiencies. Dry mouth and taste disorder are common sequelae of many medications taken by older adults. Examples of such include anticholinergic drugs.
Healthy teeth vs unhealthy teeth
It is evident that a close relationship exists between oral hygiene and the overall health of individuals. The oral health of elders residing in nursing homes is destitute, and inadequate plaque removal plays a key role in the poor oral health outcomes evident in most parts of the world. According to Fondin (2015), consistent daily removal of plaque and cleansing of dentures dramatically improves the overall health status of patients suffering from the menace. Unfortunately, the oral health care of institutionalized elders receives a low priority. Interdisciplinary cooperation by hospitals administrators, nursing staff, as well as dental hygienist can reduce the risk of dental caries, gingival diseases, as well as tooth loss among different individuals. Ultimately, that improves their lives. There existed some limitations in the research process. There was limited longitudinal research on the relationship between oral hygiene and general health of individuals. Additionally, the study depends on a small-scale engagement with the participants from Australia. That limits the scope of the research and does not embrace diversity in any way.
Residents with teeth should brush in the morning and before going to bed at night. A regular manual toothbrush may not be helpful for residents with disabilities that affect manual dexterity or for a caregiver to provide oral hygiene care. Dentures and partial dentures should receive daily cleaning of their teeth using a denture brush or toothbrush. It is imperative to place a washcloth in the sink before cleaning under water to reduce the risk of breaking. It is paramount to remove the dentures at night and soak them in denture cleanser. Additionally, the nursing home staff should request in-service training by a dental hygienist regarding the identification of common signs of oral problems and the mechanism of daily oral and denture hygiene for residents.
Darby, M. L., & Walsh, M. (2014). Dental hygiene: theory and practice. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Donley, T. (2012). Oral and overall health: clearing up the confusion. Journal of the Irish Dental Association, 58(6), 305.
Fejerskov, O., Escobar, G., Jøssing, M., & Baelum, V. (2013). A functional natural dentition for all–and for life? The oral healthcare system needs revision. Journal of oral rehabilitation, 40(9), 707-722.
Fondin, M. S. (2015). The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda: An Easy Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle. New World Library.
Gohil, K. (2016). Secondary Data Analysis based on Children Health Survey: On Factors Associated to Overall Dental Health of Children in USA.
Griffin, S. O., Jones, J. A., Brunson, D., Griffin, P. M., & Bailey, W. D. (2012). Burden of oral disease among older adults and implications for public health priorities. American journal of public health, 102(3), 411-418.
Lee, J. Y., Divaris, K., Baker, A. D., Rozier, R. G., & Vann Jr, W. F. (2012). The relationship of oral health literacy and self-efficacy with oral health status and dental neglect. American journal of public health, 102(5), 923-929.
Rosenstiel, S. F., Land, M. F., & Fujimoto, J. (2015). Contemporary fixed prosthodontics. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Shea, J. M. (2012). Smile: Keeping Your Teeth and Gums Healthy. The Rosen Publishing Group.
World Health Organization. (2013). Oral health surveys: basic methods. World Health Organization.
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