Of course your oral health is an essential part of your life; it has an impact on breathing, swallowing, eating, drinking, smiling, speaking - and kissing.
Plus, it impacts on your general health in three main areas.
At Granta Dental, we're keen that we not only treat any oral problems you have, but help you understand the reasons behind those problems so you can avoid them in the future.
We find that patients mostly have three types of problem. 1: Periodontal disease (gum problems) 2; Caries (tooth decay) 3. Occlusal disease (tooth wear, breakage, grinding and clenching, and jaw joint dysfunction).
Your mouth naturally contains bacteria - the number and type depends on those passed on to you by your parents, but also on what you eat and drink, your mouth hygiene and your general health. Because of these varied reasons, some people are more susceptible in general to gum disease than other people are; and even if you have good gum health, a period of illness may increase your vulnerability.
Bacteria produce a sticky substance called plaque that allows them to adhere to tooth surfaces - and then they camouflage themselves to the colour of teeth so they are difficult to see. These bacteria can build up and irritate your gums, causing inflammation, gum deterioration and bone problems to the point where you may lose your teeth. Gum disease is actually more common than problems with your teeth.
The bacteria in your mouth also consume the sugars that are left when you eat food, then convert these sugars to acids. When the acids are left in contact with the surface of your teeth for a long time, they dissolve and damage the tooth enamel. Then bacteria can lodge themselves in your tooth, causing a cavity; if untreated, bacteria spread through the tooth and beyond, causing infection, abscesses and further tooth loss.
Your facial structure is partly inherited, but is also down to the way you use your mouth in everyday activities such as speaking and eating. It develops mainly during childhood and puberty, but of course can be affected after that by infection, injury or stress that creates jaw tension. In particular, if your bite is imbalanced, although your mouth will adapt to this, the fact that you're using your jaws and jaw joints continuously through the day and night means that problems will develop - often slowly and without your noticing.
Most basically, you need to have good oral hygiene, which prevents gum disease, tooth decay and bone loss. For more detail on this read our page on Maintaining your oral health. We'll always support you in this through your regular hygienist visits and by discussing with you our range of screening and treatment possibilities.
You can also be more active in your approach. However old (or young) you are, if your mouth is badly structured and badly functioning, we can almost certainly do a lot to restore that balance. Treatment to realign your jaw and teeth may take a long time, but nowadays our life span is longer than ever before; it may be well worth while making sure that for the decades ahead your mouth is working efficiently and comfortably. This option isn't for everyone, but we'll raise the issue with you if we feel you could benefit - and are more than happy to discuss possibilities until we find a way forward that works for you.