While researching for this paper, I’ve learned a little bit more about the history of dental carries and its effects on us even in the early days. I found a few authors who took time to really study the behaviours of oral bacteria that lives in our mouth. This paper also tells the importance of being well educated regarding our oral health. As we all know that bacteria were the first living things on Earth way back a few hundred billion years ago and even today, they still exist and still in abundance. People from the old days didn’t have much tools and knowledge on how to take care of their oral health and they still weren’t aware of the complications of their environment to their oral health and to their overall health. Teeth of some of the early inhabitants were found in many parts of the world and they’ve revealed so much information on their diet, their age, any sort of hygiene, stress-related oral implications and etc, and many scientists were amazed by how a tooth can tell a story of a person even if it was from a long time ago. Depending on where they were in the world, they’ve adapted to their surroundings, and they learned how to use their mouth and teeth to held on things, maybe even use them as a tool and many more. For those who stuck to farming and hunting showed to have a lot lower chance of any type of disease-associated bacteria compared to our world today and that the diversity of species of bacteria in the mouth was much higher back then.
Today, there are almost 700 strains of bacterias that have been found in the mouth of a living person. Some bacterias are beneficial to our mouth and helps aid in the digestion of our food like probiotics and some bacteria protect our gums. There are 2 types of bacterias that will mostly cause harm in our mouth. Streptococcus mutans is a type of bacteria that lives in our mouth and feeds on the sugary stuff and starches that we eat but that alone isn’t that bad, but due to its insatiable nature, it produces enamel-eroding acids which makes it the main cause of tooth decay in children and in adults. Another common harmful bacteria is a Porphyromonasginigivalisthatisn’tthatmuchpresentinthemouthbutwhenitis,ithas been strongly linked to periodontitis where there is inflammation of the gums and the supporting structures of the teeth which is said to be one of the most common human diseases. It does not affect a specific age group, even children can get them especially if not enough attention and importance is given to their oral health. In our world today, only a few people are well educated on the importance of a good and healthy oral health. To some, they may even think of the oral cavity as insignificant to their overall health for which they have no interest in putting much effort in.
However, there are also some people who are really keen and very much involved in taking care of their teeth and oral cavity and enjoys getting educated by their healthcare professionals and always curious about recent studies and new products in the market. It’s a shame to see people especially children who suffers with dental cavities at an early stage in their lives. Parents should be aware of all the implications and consequences of leaving their children unsupervised while eating because most kids munch on their candies every minute of everyday and rarely brush their teeth which is a green light for bacteria to come in and cause trouble in a way that these bacterias feed on the sugars from the food and drinks that we consume for growth. Even adults who eats breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday are at risk of these complications when their daily consumption of fruit and vegetable is low and consumes mostly sugar and starch food.
The process of tooth decay is something that is so simple and yet people are unattentive of it. Many people often shrug the idea of “always brush after a meal because you’ll accumulate bacteria on your teeth”, because they have no access to an oral self care kit when they’re at work, school or at an event but regardless of the location that people are in, most of us tend to delay the brushing a few hours later and just let the residue from the food that they have just consumed stay and have the time of their lives in their mouth. The food that we consume on a regular basis is a determining factor for a bacteria to chronically build up on the surface of our teeth which leads to many problems. A person who eats mostly vegetables and a diet that are low in sugar level compared to a person whose diet mostly revolves around fast food chain restaurants and regularly eats sweets, desserts, regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, energy drinks, processed fruit juices tend to have less plaque and risk for getting a cavity and other oral health problems.
As a future hygienist, I have the responsibility to educate my clients on the things that affect their oral health and overall health as well, whether it’s the food they eat, their daily activities, their hobbies, habits and their emotional interest in making sure they have a healthy mouth. It’s my priority that once they leave the clinic, they have all the information that they will need in order to effectively improve their oral health status so for next time that they come in, we can track their progress and keep improving their knowledge and skills until we get to our goal. I really think nutritional counselling is an important aspect of being a hygienist and a healthcare practitioner because people not only come for us so that their teeth can be saved from any further damage but they come to us so that they can be protected from all the possible risk of their daily lives that might put their oral health in jeopardy.
Being knowledgeable of all the possible impact of our diet could literally save us from getting sick and being susceptible to any type of disease. When patients are aware of the benefits of eating healthy and being active, they’re doing themselves a favour because they are increasing their life expectancy. Consulting with a nutritionist or even the hygienist could make a big impact on a patient’s oral health and lifestyle, maybe change their bad eating habits and substitute them for something nutritious and beneficial for the patient’s health. A person’s needs are specific to that person alone because we all have different metabolism and our body works a little bit differently than others even compared to a family member. Patients should be aware of the consequences of regularly eating junk foods that has no nutrients on them regardless of the bulk of that food that they consume. Just because we eat three times a day doesn’t mean we are nutritious and are repellent to diseases. Nutrition shouldn’t be considered just for the sole purpose of “looking good” but most importantly we should choose to eat healthier so we can avoid any type oral complications that lead to certain diseases. Lifestyle must also be changed in accordance to good diet, proper and regular exercise should be done by every individual catered to what they need to work on, either just by walking for one hour or two or going on a couple of laps in the pool and running a marathon could and will possibly change our health and again improve the quality of our lives.
Since proper nutrition helps us in keeping a healthy and happy oral health, there are still a lot of people who are just incapable of keeping up with the maintenance of their teeth. Socio-economic status plays a big role in people’s health due to the fact that they have shortage of food which makes them malnutritioned for the most part, and most of their dental caries goes untreated which may lead to other oral complications such as infections and abscesses which can be very painful.
Since we now know that improper nutrition and oral bacteria are relatively related to each other as well as other oral diseases and factors, we should be more cautious in what we consume in our diet and we should stick to those food that are beneficial to our oral health and of course general health. Brushing at least twice a day alongside flossing and the use of mouthwash and any other tool should be a habit so we can prevent the risk of cavities. Consistent and regular check up with a Dentist is necessary to keep track of our health and if need be, to improve it. I want everyone to see the importance of our oral health and take it seriously because if we don’t take care of it, we will suffer in the end and wish we could’ve done something differently.