What increases my risk for oral health problems?

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Cavities aren't just for kids. The changes that occur with aging make cavities an adult problem, too. Recession of the gums away from the teeth, combined with an increased incidence of gum disease, can expose tooth roots to plaque.

Take care of your mouth--and your smile. And don't smoke! One of the best things you can do for your dental health is to stay away from tobacco. Not only does it stain your teeth, but smoking and tobacco can have a profound effect on your oral health, including contributing to:
  • Oral Cancer
  • Periodontal (gum) disease—a leading cause of tooth loss and sensitivity
  • Delayed healing after a tooth extraction or other oral surgery
  • Few options for some kinds of dental care (smokers can be poor candidates for particular treatments such as implants)
  • Bad breath
  • Stained teeth and tongue
  • Diminished sense of taste and smell
The best thing you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy is to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, floss once a day and schedule regular dental checkups. You can also decrease your risk for cavities and other oral health problems by eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks.
Your risk of oral health problems is higher if you don’t brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and don't floss at least once a day. You also increase your risk if you don't see your dentist regularly. Regular visits not only let your dentist treat tooth decay early and help prevent gum disease, but can also serve as an early warning system for detecting oral cancer. To further reduce your risk, limit sugary and especially sticky snacks between meals, or brush after you eat them. If you bike or play contact sports, wear protective headgear to protect your teeth as well as your head. Eating a healthy diet, including calcium-rich foods, also helps protect your oral health. If you smoke, quitting now can greatly improve your oral health.
The old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" certainly applies here.

There are several key factors:
1)  Personal hygiene -- regular daily proper brushing and flossing.
2)  Regular dentist visits to be able to detect any problems while they are still minor.
3)  Genetic -- there can be factors passed on from generation to generation that affect tooth decay and gum disease.
4)  Medical -- certain medical conditions, like diabetes, can affect our bodies ability to fight off infections like gum disease.

Staying away from regular dental visits and not practicing daily personal hygiene will allow small problems to become bigger problems that are then more costly to fix.

When it comes to oral healthcare, regular maintenance is key. Therefore, neglecting to brush and floss daily is a major risk factor for oral health problems. Skipping your dental appointments also puts you at risk, because your dentist can identify and treat any issues before they become serious. Certain health conditions can increase your risk of suffering dental health issues. If you have diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or osteoporosis, make sure to notify your dentist and ask how these conditions can affect your oral health.

Continue Learning about Oral Health

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.