There are a lot of reasons why people want to keep their oral health in good form. From attractiveness to comfort, excellent dental health comes with many advantages.
However, when most people consider their oral health, it’s only their teeth that come to mind. While teeth are a major part of it, your gums, tongue, TMJ, and airway also play a major role in your dental health. Discover why your teeth aren’t the only aspects of excellent oral health.
Other Parts Contributing to the Health of Your Teeth
Although they’re always the focal point of oral health, your teeth are just one part of the equation. Consider where your teeth are connected to: The gums. If the gums are infected, it causes not only discomfort but can damage the tissue that holds your teeth in place as well.
Looking a little deeper than the gums, we see that your teeth are actually connected beneath them, to the jaw. The jaw joint is known as the TMJ, and problems with the TMJ can lead to a wide range of painful and debilitating symptoms including lockjaw and neck pain.
Sleep is vital to every aspect of our health, and our oral health is no exception. When patients have problems sleeping, it’s often a dentist who examines their airway and determines whether they’re suffering from a sleep disorder. The most common of these is obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which patients lose the ability to sleep through the night due to an obstructed airway.
As you can see, there is far more to dental health than just the health of your teeth!
Gums Have a Major Effect on Your Oral Health
As the base of your teeth, the gums are vulnerable to all of the plaque and decay that falls from them. When tooth decay builds on your teeth and leads to plaque, it can cause cavities if it’s on your teeth, but if it festers in your gums, it leads to an infection known as gum disease. Considering that gum problems can lead to life-threatening illnesses if left untreated, it’s important to preserve your smile by caring for them as well.
Common Gum Problems
You’ve probably heard the term gingivitis in advertisements and seen it on dental products. The most serious aspect of gingivitis and the reason you should treat it immediately is that it can quickly lead to problems that are far more severe. Here is an overview of gum disease and its three stages:
Gingivitis – Earliest stage of gum disease
When patients have red, swollen gums that are irritable to the touch, they may have a case of gingivitis. The symptoms of gingivitis are easily treatable, but it’s vital to act fast before the infection spreads.
Periodontitis – Characterized by the appearance of pockets in the mouth
The second stage of gum disease is far worse than the first, and may result in permanent damage to your gum tissue, but not tooth loss. The pockets that form are uncomfortable and filled with pus, providing a lot of incentive to seek professional care.
Advanced Periodontitis – The most severe stage where tooth loss is possible
At this stage, gum disease has been neglected for some time. Gum tissue may be permanently destroyed making tooth loss a legitimate possibility. Treating the problem will be a lot more expensive at this stage, as it will likely require surgical procedures such as gum grafts.
How to Keep Your Gums Healthy
Sore, irritated gums are a major inconvenience, so it’s wise to take preventative measures to ensure that you stop the problem. Follow these tips for your best chance at avoiding gum disease:
- When brushing your teeth, ensure that you clean along the gum line as well.
- After eating high-sugar foods, clean your teeth soon before plaque can form and spread.
- If you drink acidic beverages like energy drinks or beer, follow them with a glass of water.
- Make it to your biannual dental appointments to detect problems early.
- Visit a dentist who treats gum disease like Dr. Peter Silberstein in Boynton Beach, FL.
TMJ Disorders Can Cause Major Problems for Your Oral Health
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jaw to your head and facilitates movement enabling speech and chewing. Disorders with the TMJ are collectively known as TMD. While these disorders take different forms, they can lead to serious symptoms that can interfere with your daily life. Even if your teeth are perfect, a severe TMD can compromise your oral health.
Typical Symptoms of TMDs
Problems with the TMJ are particularly noticeable because of the location — anything that causes discomfort in your head, neck, and shoulders is difficult to ignore. Like most dental problems, your TMD may become worse if neglected, so seek professional help if you notice any of these symptoms developing:
- The TMJ may lock up, preventing or inhibiting chewing and speaking action.
- You may feel all around soreness in your face.
- A TMD may cause significant pain while chewing or moving your jaw.
- Your ear may become sore and painful.
- The joints on either side of your jaw may become painful.
- Pain may be isolated to your jaw, causing discomfort when touched.
Solving Your TMJ Problem
Stretching and moving your jaw may help relieve symptoms or prevent TMDs altogether. If you’re experiencing pain, applying heat or cold pressure is recommended to alleviate the symptoms. Dentists such as Dr. Nicholas Sager in Waco, TX provide a wide range of treatments for TMJ disorders, including oral appliances, medications, and even surgery.
A Clear, Unobstructed Airway is Vital to Excellent Dental Health
Sleep is critical for replenishing cells, allowing the brain and organs to rest, and other functions. A clogged airway is the root cause of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder that causes the sufferer to wake up dozens of times through the night. Characterized by loud snoring, sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed unless there’s a sleep partner to notice the problem. While interfering with sleep may not seem like a life-threatening problem, you may be surprised at the wide-reaching effects of sleep apnea.
The Many Ways You Suffer from Sleep Apnea
Without sleep, we start to experience various problematic symptoms throughout our daily lives. From irritability to trouble focusing, the wide-reaching effects of sleep apnea make it a very challenging disorder. Discover how sleep apnea takes a toll on your life:
- Snoring is the 3rd leading cause of divorce and the key symptom of sleep apnea.
- Lack of sleep makes a negative impact on your performance during the day.
- Untreated sleep apnea is linked to heart disease, stroke, and other major problems.
- Sleep apnea sufferers may fall asleep during the day and even while driving.
- Not sleeping can cause health problems in nearly every part of your body.
Solving Your Sleep Apnea Problem
If you’ve gotten a sleep test and have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s crucial to begin treatment as soon as possible. These tips can help you find relief and put an end to your disorder:
– Losing weight and ensuring you’re physically fit will help in most cases.
– Altering the angle in which you sleep may provide some relief.
– Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon will contribute to healthy sleep.
– Visit a sleep specialist like Dr. Chiarina Iregui for sleep apnea treatment.
– An oral appliance may be able to open your airway, ensuring a good night of sleep.
– Surgery is a rare but effective option for some sleep apnea sufferers.
Your Teeth Are Just One Aspect of a Healthy Smile
Although your teeth get the most focus when it comes to dental health, they’re heavily dependent on other areas, such as the gums and jaw. Even with perfect teeth, a gum, jaw, or airway problem can wreak havoc on your oral health. Understanding the various issues that can arise is the first step in knowing how to treat, and better yet, prevent them altogether.