Poor oral health can affect our appearance and self-esteem, and has been linked to sleeping problems, as well as behavioural and developmental problems in children. Poor oral health can also affect our ability to chew and digest food properly. Maintaining good oral health involves keeping our teeth free of cavities and preventing gum disease.
What are dental cavities and gum disease and their resulting health implications? Dental cavities are a result of tooth decay. Signs of decay include discolouration or erosion around the crown or root of a tooth. In infants, there is a form of tooth decay known as baby bottle syndrome. This results when a baby falls asleep with a sugar-filled juice bottle in his mouth. The sugars combine with plaque to promote bacterial growth that eats away at the surface of the teeth and then causes decay.
Plaque is sticky deposits of bacteria, mucus and food particles that adheres to the teeth. The accumulation of plaque causes the gums to become infected and swollen. As the gums swell (gum disease i.e. gingivitis), pockets form between the gums and the teeth then act as a trap for more plaque. Gingivitis eventually can result in the erosion of the bone that supports the teeth.