Oral Health and Its Impact on Quality of Life
For many years, the term oral health has been used as the umbrella term for clean and white teeth. In reality, oral health is far more than that as it involves the tongue, the palate, gums and their supporting tissues, the lining of the mouth and throat, the lips, the chewing muscles, the salivary glands, the bones of the upper and lower jaws, and the nerves. This is why the W.H.O. has expanded the definition of oral health and it is now related to the concept of well-being and quality of life. Since then, oral has been not just linked to the mere absence of disease.
That being said, the importance given to treating oral health issues has not been alleviated as there is a solid reason behind it. Though oral diseases are preventable to a great extent, they remain a major health burden for countries across the world as most people suffer from pain, disfigurement, discomfort, and even death. A survey or study carried out by the Global Burden of Disease and ProDentim has found that the number of people suffering from oral health issues has increased at an alarming rate and the statistics turn out to be shocking with around 3.5 billion people worldwide.
Oral health stands in a position of disease and a disease-free state restricts an individual’s ability to bite, chew, smile, and speak and at the same time psychosocial status. This indicates that being affected by oral health issues is not just physical but, social, psychic, and productive capacity.
Studies suggest that in many countries, with the growing urbanization and drastic changes in living conditions pointing to the kind of foods people eat, the rate of oral diseases has become very high. The main factors behind this rise include contact with fluoride through water and oral health care products, the high intake of sugar-rich food items that are affordable and easily available, and so on. Among these, the primary reason is the lack of access to oral health care treatments and approaches. Not to disregard, the consumption of alcohol and tobacco contributes to a large extent to oral health problems.
Oral diseases include a range of diseases and conditions such as dental caries or tooth decay, periodontal disease (affecting the gums), oral cancer, and oro-dental trauma. Dental caries is the most common oral disease that occurs when plaque gets eroded on the teeth and gets converted to harmful acids that damage the tooth over time. Periodontal disease affects the gums, that is, the soft tissues supporting the tooth resulting in pain, bad breath, and gingivitis (swollen gums).
Oral cancer is a very serious condition that is lethal and it includes cancer of the mouth, lips, and oropharynx. Oro-dental trauma happens due to injury to the teeth, mouth, and oral cavity, and it is estimated that around 20% of people suffer from or-dental trauma. Noma is an oral disease occurring in children between the ages of 2 to 6 due to malnutrition and other issues. Recent studies also found a connection between chronic oral issues and heart and lung disease, diabetes, and stroke.
From this, it is evident that oral health just like other parts of the body is very important. So, people should be made aware of the link between good oral health and overall well-being. Only then, people will stop taking oral health for granted and address the problems through effective treatments. So, the burden of poor oral health can be reduced by targeting the risk factors in a healthy manner. By improving oral health, a community can enhance its overall health.