Dental health is extremely important. Obviously, all our body parts should be healthy!! However, it just happens that our mouth, and our teeth in particular, need a bit more maintenance and TLC than most other areas. For the majority of people, there is a minimal amount of time spent on eyes, ears, kidney or stomach care, for example, but the mouth asks for very repetitive treatments. Why? Simply because our mouth is our interface with everything we consume as liquids and food, several times each day. Our oral soft tissues and our teeth are exposed to the raw ingredients and elements of everything we ingest, and is a portal of entry for bacteria and other microorganisms that come with it. Just like every other part of our rather long digestive system (about 30 feet from entrance to exit!), the mouth is colonized by a lot of bacteria that can be good or bad depending on how often and with what they are fed! Add to this a much-too-rich-in-sugar diet typical of our society, a long lifespan, direct application of noxious supplemental substances (tobacco...), and one can imagine how problems could develop. Those problems are actually so common that a large branch of health treatments evolved parallel to that of medicine over time, and became know as dentistry. While issues with other body parts are almost always a sub-component of medicine, dentistry has its own training schools, titles (DMD or DDS), national and state organizations and is treated -maybe unfortunately- as separate from medicine from an insurance or Medicare standpoint.
We take the mouth seriously at Advanced Smile & Dental Arts. Of course, it is a vital need for eating and drinking. But although it is less publicized, it is also used (among others) to speak, sing, smile, smoke, make expressions that can range from attractive to threatening, whistle, taste, cut, chew, test a substance, breathe on occasion, blow on a candle, suck on a straw, lick a wound, bite nails or suck on a thumb, play a musical instrument, and is deeply involved in interpersonal exchanges, kissing and so on...Several studies have shown that people thought their smile as their #1 most important attribute when meeting someone for the first time, even before the eyes (although there has been a recent push for eyebrows as being the big thing!). Having bad teeth or bad breath is certainly recognized as a poor attractant to other people and a big negative for social interactions!
The numbers related to diseases of the teeth and the gums are impressive or depressing, depending on the way we consider them! Although numbers for dental caries vary with different studies, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research:
- 42% of children 2 to 11 have had dental caries in their primary teeth, and 23% of children 2 to 11 have untreated dental caries.
- 59% of adolescents 12 to 19 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth, and 20% of that age group has untreated caries.
- 92% of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth, with 26% of those people untreated.
- 93% of seniors 65 and older have had dental caries in their permanent teeth, with 19% of them untreated.
We are obviously dealing with an extremely common issue, and 1/4 to 1/5 of the population is untreated. This is why we have information for you on ORAL HYGIENE for all age groups, and CHILD DENTISTRY since it is so important to start early.
As if dental caries were not enough to go see your dentist (at least) twice a year, there is another enormously common oral condition known as periodontitis, or "gum disease", something well described in our page on "Periodontics / Gum Treatments". According to the respected CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), "47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease." and "Periodontal Disease increases with age, 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease." That is a LOT of people with gum issues. Periodontal diseases are too often ignored and under-diagnosed, even by dentists. And this is too bad because over time, they will create a tremendous amount of gingival infections, pain, and loss of function by eventual losing the tooth. And this is preventable, treatable or maintainable with adequate treatments, including excellent personal dental hygiene, regular dental cleanings and "deep-scaling" as appropriate, as well as fairly recent advances such as sub-gingival medical treatments ("Arestin"). More information about these topics will be found around our web site!
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