World Oral Health Day 20th March 2023
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According to WHO Global Oral Health Status Report (2022), nearly 3.5 billion people suffer globally from an oral disease which affects all age groups. Due to growing urbanization and changes in lifestyle, the prevalence of oral disease is increasing.

Now, we have easy access to food and beverages containing high sugar, tobacco products, and alcohol due to availability and affordability and there is also the influence of heavy marketing upon us. However, access to oral health care and awareness about oral health diseases is lacking in society.

Most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their initial stages because oral diseases are mostly caused by modifiable risk factors, common to many noncommunicable diseases, like sugar consumption, tobacco use, alcohol use and poor oral hygiene.

So, looking after our oral health automatically prevents many other diseases which lead to happiness and well-being. That is why it is said, Oral Health is the Gateway to overall Health.

What are the most common preventable Oral Diseases?

1) Cavity (Dental Caries)

Our oral cavity contains different microbial species which form a sticky film on teeth which is called plaque. When we eat any food or drink containing sugar, plaque microbes convert it into acid that destroys the tooth over time. So, frequent intake of sugar-containing foods like chocolate, biscuit, cold drink etc. and lack of adequate plaque removal by proper brushing can lead to cavities in teeth, pain, infection and swelling of jaws.

2) Gum disease (Periodontal Disease)

Periodontal disease affects the tissues that both surround and support the teeth. Usually, patients present with bleeding from gum, bad breath, swelling along with pain. In advanced cases, the gum recedes from teeth, teeth become loose and sometimes fall out. Risk factors are mainly poor oral hygiene and the use of tobacco. Preexisting diabetes also increases the risk of having gum disease.

3) Oral Cancer

Globally 377713 new cases and 177 757 deaths happened in 2020 due to oral cancer. It is
more common in men and older people. The leading causes of oral cancer are the use of tobacco, alcohol, and areca nut (betel quid). In the precancerous stage, the lesion might look like a white or red patch. Later in the cancerous stage, a non-healing ulcer or growth develops inside the oral cavity. The patient often reports late to doctors, which increases morbidity and mortality.

4) Oro-Dental Trauma
Oro-dental trauma results from injury to the teeth, mouth, and oral cavity. Oro-dental trauma can be caused by oral factors such as lack of alignment of teeth and environmental factors (such as unsafe playgrounds, risk-taking behaviour, road accidents and violence). Treatment is costly and lengthy and sometimes can even lead to tooth loss, and jawbone fracture resulting in complications for facial and psychological development and quality of life.

How Oral Disease can be prevented?

1) Promoting a well-balanced diet which is low in free sugars.
2) Consuming fibrous food like fruit and vegetables.
3) Favouring water as the main drinks
4) Stopping the use of tobacco in all forms like cigarettes, bidi, gutka, jarda etc.
5) Stopping chewing areca nuts and products containing it (Pan Masala)
6) Reducing alcohol consumption
7) Using protective equipment when doing sports or travelling on bicycles and motorcycles
(to reduce the risk of facial injuries).
8) Brushing teeth twice daily

9) Using a fluoride-containing toothpaste
10) Visiting the dentist regularly (at least every six months) for a periodic oral health check

The Department of Dental Surgery at Central Referral Hospital is well-equipped with the latest technology and offers services such as Diagnosis of Oral and Dental disease and treatment planning, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery- Extractions, Maxillofacial Trauma care, etc., Prosthodontics- Fixed Partial Denture, Complete Denture etc, Endodontics- Root Canal Therapy, etc., Conservative Dentistry- Restorations of teeth, Aesthetic Dentistry etc., Paediatric Dentistry- Dentistry for children, Periodontics- Scaling and root planing etc, and Orthodontics- Treatment of irregular teeth with braces

Dr Atanu Bhanja is a Professor and Head, Dept of Dental Surgery, Central Referral Hospital, SMU

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