Are oral health problems serious?

Some oral health problems, like gingivitis, are minor and can be easily treated. However, gum disease has also been linked to serious health consequences. These include cardiovascular problems, stroke, and premature birth in pregnant women. Some oral health problems can make it more difficult for diabetics to manage their diabetes. When the bacteria from gum disease get into the bloodstream, it can cause health problems in the rest of the body. Therefore, proper dental care is important for prevention of oral health problems.

Some oral health problems can be serious. Diseases that affect the tissue supporting your teeth can be mild or severe. If untreated the more mild form (gingivitis) can turn more severe and can be destructive, leading to loss of teeth. Use of tobacco products can lead to increased risk for oral cancer, which can cause pain, difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue. Not brushing and flossing regularly can lead to cavities, requiring fillings or other problems. Your dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur while they are easy to treat.
Oral health problems can range from mild to very serious. For example, if you have a common type of gum disease called gingivitis, you may notice some unusual bleeding of your gums or some gum tenderness, but if you brush and floss carefully and consistently, your symptoms will often disappear.

However, other problems with your mouth, teeth, or gums can be extremely serious. Periodontitis is a form of gum disease that is generally irreversible and can lead to tooth and bone loss. Temporomandibular disorders (problems with your jaw joint and muscles) can cause chronic pain and difficulty eating. Cancers of the tongue, throat, and mouth can be difficult to treat and may be incurable.

Because oral health problems can be very serious, it is important to take three simple steps toward good oral health. These are:
  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  2. Floss once daily.
  3. Get a cleaning and check-up at your dentist's office at least twice a year (more often if you have certain conditions such as diabetes)

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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.