The Importance of Oral Health Maintenance in Disease Prevention
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In terms of care for one’s health, the oral cavity should not be looked upon as an isolated area of the body. The purpose of going to the dentist is not just for the sake of healing tooth pain, but rather for maintaining and strengthening teeth and gum tissue, which is, in effect, sealing off potential entry ways for pathogens (AlJehani, 2014). Rotten oral cavities are an ideal entrance for pathogenic species to enter the circulatory and respiratory systems as it is a damp, moist environment, ideal conditions for proliferation (AlJehani, 2014). Once in the body, these pathogens can lead to all kinds of life-threatening diseases in humans that may be too late to effectively treat by the time symptoms appear (AlJehani, 2014). The first step in prevention of these types of illnesses is to look at what problems result from a lack of attention to oral health. There are two diseases that most commonly occur: The first is dental caries, which are sites of inflammation, infection, decay, or rotting, which can all lead to a degradation of the bone structure (Jamison et. al, 2006). Caries then lead to cavities, which are holes in the tooth through which bacteria can enter the blood and lung systems, where they have direct access all the time (Jamison et. al, 2006). The second main disease, periodontal disease, arises as the result of progressive destruction of supporting tissues of the teeth (AlJehani, 2014). Caries and periodontal disease, while easily preventable, can lead to immune system issues resulting in more serious diseases (AlJehani, 2014). For example, the bodies’ ability to deal with high blood sugar is compromised when dealing with swelling and degradation in the mouth from dental caries, leading to an increased susceptibility for diabetes (AlJehani, 2014). It is looked at in this review how attention is being given to not just the biological aspects of teeth and the health effects, but also how one’s socioeconomic status plays a part in one’s ability to control their oral health. Finally, risk factors are examined, looking at what diseases the body may be more susceptible to once oral disease is present, what diseases may serve as causative agents of these oral problems and diseases, and then at how the diseases can be prevented.