Oral diseases are the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and affect people throughout their lifetime, causing pain, discomfort, disfigurement and even death.
Oral health is a key indicator of overall health, wellbeing and quality of life. WHO defines oral health as “a state of being free from chronic mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial well-being.”
“Seven oral diseases and conditions account for most of the oral disease burden. They include dental caries (tooth decay), periodontal (gum) diseases, oral cancers, oral manifestations of HIV, oro-dental trauma, cleft lip and palate, and noma. Almost all diseases and conditions are either largely preventable or can be treated in their early stages,” Dr Swapnil Gajare, dentist from Pune.
Dr Vivek Pakhamode, dentist at Sassoon General Hospital, said, “Dental caries results when microbial biofilm (plaque) formed on the tooth surface converts the free sugars contained in foods and drinks into acids that dissolve tooth enamel and dentine over time. Diseases of the mouth, such as tooth decay or cavities (dental caries) and gum disease (periodontal disease) are among the most common non-communicable diseases in the country and, traditionally, some of the most neglected.”
Preventive measures include:
- Promoting a well-balanced diet:
- Low in free sugars to prevent development of dental caries, premature tooth loss and other diet-related Non communicable diseases;
- With adequate fruit and vegetable intake, which may have a protective role in oral cancer prevention;
- Reducing smoking, the use of smokeless tobacco including chewing of areca nuts, and alcohol consumption to reduce the risk of oral cancers, periodontal disease and tooth loss; and
- Encouraging use of protective equipment when doing sports and travelling in motor vehicles to reduce the risk of facial injuries.