British teeth, characterised as discoloured and crooked, feature as the punchline in many American jokes. While we have historically deserved the reputation of neglecting our dental health, in recent years we have grown much more conscious of the value of an attractive, healthy smile, as reflected in the millions of pounds we spend annually on whitening solutions. As important as the appearance of our dentition is to our confidence and self-esteem, its impact on our general health is even more significant. Here is a look at four key dental issues that are critical to our physical well-being.
1. Gum Disease
Until recently, we believed that the central risk presented by gum disease was tooth loss. Research carried out over the past decade, however, suggests that it can be linked to a host of serious disorders. The National Health Service says that in some patients, “the body over-reacts to the bacteria around the gums and causes too much inflammation. In others, the inflammation doesn’t clear up properly. The result… is that it also affects the bloodstream, and is believed to slowly damage blood vessels in the heart and brain over a long period of time.” The report goes on to list heart disease and heart attacks, diabetes, stroke and even rheumatoid arthritis as possible complications. Regular cleaning and flossing are therefore of great importance. If you notice bleeding or soreness, you should contact a dentist immediately.
Painful and unpleasant, dental abscesses will not improve if left untreated. They can lead to loss of teeth and sinusitis, osteomyelitis (bone infection) and in some rare cases, cavernous sinus thrombosis or Ludwig’s angina.
Involuntary grinding of teeth (usually at night) or bruxism is commonly perceived as a symptom of anxiety that wears down the teeth but is otherwise harmless. However, research suggests that besides causing generalised head pain, bruxism might be linked with obstructive sleep apnoea. Those who need advice on teeth grinding should consult a dental professional such as http://www.uksmile.com/, a London SW1 dentist.
4. General Pain
A toothache is a sign that something is amiss with your mouth. Occasionally, though, it is “referred pain” caused by a problem elsewhere in your system. You should not ignore tooth pain because it will worsen when left untreated and is potentially symptomatic of a more serious medical condition.