About dental caries and periodontal diseases-A A +A
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
ACCORDING to the 1998 statistics shared by the Department of Health, 94.2 percent of Filipinos have dental caries and 78 percent have gum diseases.
The result of the 2006 national oral health survey among the public school population in the Philippines reports that prevalence of certain dental problems like caries and gum diseases have rural-urban differentials.
Its records reveal that cases of dental caries in Region 10 are 95 percent prevalent among the sampled 6-year-old respondents coming from the urban places compared to the 100 percent or all of the sampled 6-year-old respondents from the rural areas.
However, when the 12-year-old age group was examined, dental caries were more prevalent among urban respondents with 91.7 percent compared to 86.7 percent among rural respondents.
Dental caries as defined by an online medical encyclopedia, is a disease of the teeth in which microorganism convert sugar in the mouth to acid, which then erodes the tooth.
Simply put, dental caries are also called tooth decay.
On the other hand, it states that periodontal diseases are pathologic conditions that involve periodontal structures such as the alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum and gingiva.
In short, periodontal diseases are collectively known as gum diseases.
Bredell R. Funke, a doctorate in medical microbiology and a professor emeritus of North Dakota State University writes in ‘Microbiology: An Introduction’ that the exterior hard surface of the tooth allows the mass accumulation of microorganism and their products that they are termed ‘dental plaque,’ which is a type of biofilm.
For Gerard Tortora, a medical microbiologist and author of ‘Essentials of Human Anatomy & Physiology,’ a biofilm is a colony or community of microorganisms: it is a biological system.
Funke explains that dental plaque is intimately involved in the formation of dental caries or tooth decay.
“Oral bacteria convert sucrose [a type of sugar] and other carbohydrates into lactic acid, which in turn attacks the tooth enamel.”
He states that while over 700 species of bacteria responsible for dental caries have been isolated from the oral cavity, perhaps the most important caries-causing bacterium is the ‘Streptococcus mutans,’ which has the capacity to metabolize a wider range of carbohydrates than any other bacteria.
Funke explains that the initiation of caries depends on the attachment of the stretococci to the tooth.
“These bacteria do not adhere to a clean tooth but within minutes a freshly brushed tooth will become coated with the biofilm.”
Furthermore, “within a couple of hours, caries-causing bacteria will become established on the tooth fermenting sugar to lactic acid,” he states.
Peridontal diseases, explains Christine Case, a registered microbiologist is characterized by inflammation and degeneration of structures that support the teeth.
“The roots of the tooth are protected by a specialized tissue called ‘cementum’. As gum recede with age or with overly aggressive brushing, the formation of caries on the cementum becomes common.”
She maintains that “in many cases of periodontal disease, the infection is restricted to the gums or gingiva.”
“The resulting inflammation, called ‘gingivits,’ is characterized by bleeding of the gums while the teeth are being brushed.”
She emphasizes that “it has been shown experimentally that gingivitis will appear in a few weeks after brushing is discontinued and plaque is allowed to accumulate.”
For Case, if gingivitis is left untreated, it can develop into its chronic form which is a ‘periodontitis’ that is an insidious gum condition that generally causes little discomfort.
She shares that “the gums are inflamed and bleed easily.”
“Sometimes, pus forms in pockets surrounding the teeth [creating what are called periodontal pockets]. As infection continues, it progresses toward the root tips destroying the bone and tissue that support teeth.”
Eventually, “this leads to loosening and loss of the teeth,” she warns.
For Tortora, there are numerous types of bacteria causing periodontitis but primarily the ‘Porphyromonas’ species.
“Treatment for periodontitis involves surgical removal of the periodontal pockets,” he maintains.
The ‘Medical-Surgical Nursing 10th edition’ shares the following tips on preventing and controlling dental caries and periodontal diseases: (1) practice effective mouth care; (2) reduce intake of starches and sugars; (3) use fluoridated toothpastes; (4) refrain from smoking; and (5) controlling diabetes.
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 24, 2013.