Every year, August 1 is observed as National Oral Hygiene Day or National Periodontist Day which is intended to spread awareness on periodontal diseases and their impact on general health.
Periodontal disease affects the people globally and is the leading cause of early teeth loss. The rate of its progression in an individual is dependent on the virulence of the bacterial plaque and on the efficiency of the local and systemic immunoinflammatory responses in that individual. The overall balance between the microbial challenge and the body's immune responses is critical to periodontal health.
Current research suggests that host responses are influenced by specific environmental and genetic factors which can determine the general susceptibility of the host or the local susceptibility of a site within the mouth to periodontal disease. In this regard, it is common for more severe forms of periodontal disease to present in individuals with compromised immune systems like those with diabetes, AIDS and leukaemia. Smoking and diabetes are well-established risk factors for periodontal disease. Diet also impacts on periodontal health, from both the perspective of plaque build-up and that of the body's immune responses. Stress has also been linked to periodontal disease, but it is not clear whether the relationship has a physiological basis or is due simply to the fact that individuals under stress are less likely to perform regular good oral hygiene.
As already stated, the vast majority of gum diseases can be easily prevented by daily thorough plaque removal. However, irregularities around the teeth such as overhanging edges on fillings, poorly contoured fillings, and some types of partial denture designs make tooth cleaning difficult and encourage the accumulation of plaque. In such areas, interdental aids such as dental floss and interdental brushes are to be used to remove the lodged food. The presence of calculus or tartar may also cause plaque to accumulate more readily and requires professional removal or scaling.
For the majority of the population, however, periodontal health can be effectively maintained by proper oral hygiene practices as well as avoidance of behavioural and environmental risk factors like smoking and stress on the part of the individual. Because periodontal disease is linked to an increased susceptibility to systemic diseases like diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, low birth weight babies, respiratory diseases, it is important not only for oral health but also for the better general health that the burden of periodontal disease must be controlled. Periodontal disease and diabetes mellitus have a two -way relationship also. This means controlling one arm will benefit the other one also. Thus maintaining proper oral hygiene practices will help you in curbing other systemic diseases also to a great extent.
(Dr. Manikandan is consultant periodontist, Thiruvananthapuram)....