Do you know that oral cancer accounts for around 30% of all cancer cases in India? Oral health problems are more prevalent among the Indian population as compared to the Asian average. But the silver lining amongst all this is that oral health problems can be easily prevented and treated by adopting basic oral hygiene best practices. 

The teeth are one of the most essential organs of humans who give us a brilliant smile, help us bite, chew and digest our food, speak words, and help fight when threatened. Neglecting oral health and hygiene can become absolutely disastrous, so it’s better to follow the philosophy that prevention is better than cure to ensure the best oral and overall health.

In this article, you will learn about oral health, major oral health problems, how bad oral hygiene contributes to life-threatening diseases, best oral practices to maintain the best oral and overall health, and much more.

What is oral health?

As per WHO, “Oral or dental health is one of the key indicators of overall health, well-being and quality of life.”

In simple terms, dental or oral hygiene includes various personal hygiene practices to keep one’s mouth and teeth clean. It includes brushing teeth regularly, avoiding foods bad for dental health, and eating a healthy diet best suited for dental and overall health. 

Why is oral health important?

Maintaining good oral health is of immense importance; our mouth is often described as the window to our body. So any bacterial infection or infestation in the mouth can very soon extend to the whole body. Right from childhood, students are taught to brush their teeth daily, rinse their mouths after eating, eat healthy food, etc., to prevent diseases.

Some of the benefits of good oral health are- 

  • Teeth last stronger and healthier. It can help avoid unnecessary pain and trouble due to dental procedures.
  • Prevents cavities.
  • Help maintain healthy gums. Gum problems are most common and often ignored. Some of the major gum diseases are- receding gums, gingivitis, etc.
  • Prevents dental plaque disposition and tartar development.
  • Keeps the breath fresh.
  • Helps maintain a healthy and shining smile.
  • Reduces the risk of stomach infections.

Common bad oral hygiene habits

The most common habits which are detrimental to our oral health are as follows-

  • Not brushing properly. People often skip brushing their teeth or don’t brush their teeth properly.
  • Using teeth as tools. Some people are habituated to using their teeth as bottle openers or cutters. It may crack or damage the teeth.
  • Nail-biting. It is neither good for nails nor teeth. Harmful bacteria under the nails may infect the mouth.
  • Snacking. Small fragments of snacks like potato chips, biscuits, bread, etc., remain attached to gums and teeth, causing plaque and enamel decay.
  • Teeth grinding. Sometimes people grind their teeth or exert too much pressure on their teeth. It can cause misalignment and gum problems. 
  • Substance and alcohol abuse. Alcohol dries up the mouth, which causes enamel decay. Substances like betel nut, etc., damage the teeth.
  • Drinking less water. It’s essential to keep the mouth and teeth moist. A dry mouth increases enamel decay and plaque disposition.
  • Poor diet. A diet lacking in calcium, potassium, vitamin c, minerals, etc., doesn’t promote healthy teeth and gum.
  • Hard brushing. Like no brushing, hard brushing is equally harmful. It can cause damage to gums, bleeding and root damage. 

How bad oral health leads to a life-death crisis?

Studies have demonstrated a link between a person’s oral health condition and mortality. Oral problems like tooth loss, root caries, and gum disease were observed to be associated with higher mortality.

In the initial stages, oral diseases may seem harmless or not so seriously, but as the infections spread, the situation may turn life-threatening. Some of the oral health issues which may become fatalistic are-

  • Tooth Infections

A tooth infection happens when bacteria enter the pulp (the tooth’s soft tissue) or root nerves. The cause can be many by tooth decay, injury, etc. Although it’s a rare possibility that a tooth infection will kill you. The infection can extend to other tissues and create life-threatening complications when untreated.

  • Sepsis

Sepsis is a life-threatening disease caused by the body’s response to an infection. Dental infections may trigger the immune system into overdrive, causing out of control and extensive inflammation. The immune system releases proteins and other chemicals to combat the infection, but the response can get out of control and trigger a septic shock.

  • Ludwig angina

It is a rare but severe bacterial skin infection that involves the mouth, neck, and jaw. Ludwig’s angina is a form of cellulitis that spreads rapidly to infect the soft tissues underneath the tongue. The inflammation can cause difficulty breathing or even choke the throat.

It’s mainly caused by oral bacterial infections that transform into skin infections. Other causes are tooth cavities, tooth abscesses, or gingivitis.

Best oral practices for best overall health

Some of the best oral health and hygiene practices are-

  • Brush properly. Brush softly and ensure that you clean every corner of the mouth and teeth, giving sufficient time. Brushing before sleeping is also recommended.
  • Drink sufficient water to keep the mouth moist.
  • Limit sugary and acidic foods. At least rinse your mouth after eating such foods.
  • Eat a nutritious diet rich in proteins, calcium, vitamins, minerals, etc.
  • Visit a dentist at least twice a year to ensure the best oral health.

Want to become a dentist and help maintain the best oral health?

Dentistry is one of the best career choices for students with many professional prospects. As dentists, students can start their own clinics or join hospitals or the armed forces as dentists and even become medical officers.

Students need to join the BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) course to become a dentist. BDS is a 5-year undergraduate course, which is compulsory to practice as a dentist. Students need to pass and score a good rank in the NEET exam to get admission into the BDS course

It’s challenging but rewarding, as a good rank ensures entry into good colleges like- KGMU, MAIDS, Mansarovar Dental College, BHU IMS, etc. Many good colleges are spread all over India; students can find good dental colleges in Bhopal, Delhi, Pune, Lucknow, etc. 

Most dental colleges are concentrated in urban centers where the demand for dentists is high; students can easily find good BDS colleges in Bhopal, Delhi, Pune, Lucknow, etc.