For many Nigerians, the regular brushing of the teeth in the morning and sometimes at night is a daily ritual to avoid cavities, discolouration, and or bad breath.
But for dentists, there is more to brushing once or twice a day. Bad dental hygiene can cause decay, dental abscesses, periodontitis, gingivitis, and other diseases that may attack your teeth and gums.
Some new researches are even linking oral health to illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
However, the most common of all oral health illnesses is a toothache or dental caries which occurs when plaque forms on the surface of a tooth and converts the free sugars contained in foods and drinks into acids that destroy the tooth over time.
A continued high intake of free sugars, inadequate exposure to fluoride and a lack of removal of plaque by tooth brushing can lead to caries, pain and sometimes tooth loss and infection.
To create awareness about the dangers of toothache, the National Toothache Day is celebrated worldwide on the 9th of February.
It is not a day to celebrate toothaches, but rather a way to raise more awareness about dental care, good oral hygiene, and preventing the dreaded toothache.
The Nigerian Dental Association in one of its educative tweets on its Twitter handle @nigdental said the tooth is a living tissue, therefore it has feelings.
The association said “observing better oral hygiene practices is a decision everyone needs to take to protect the health of the mouth and body as a whole.”
This implies that every food we eat, what we drink, and the type of brush we use for our teeth or majorly the substances we put in our mouth can have an effect on the teeth.
This is why archaeologists use dental analysis of fossils excavated from archaeological sites to get insight into dietary trends of past civilizations.
Below are 10 key facts about toothache and oral care sourced from the FDI World Dental Federation:
- Oral disease affects 3.9 billion people worldwide, with untreated tooth decay (dental caries) impacting almost half of the world’s population (44 per cent), making it the most prevalent of all the 291 conditions included in the Global Burden of Disease Study.
- Globally, between 60–90% of schoolchildren and nearly 100% of adults have tooth decay, often leading to pain and discomfort.
- Severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 15–20% of middle-aged (35–44 years) adults.
- Severe periodontitis and untreated tooth decay in the primary teeth (milk teeth or baby teeth) are among the top 10 most prevalent of all conditions. Combined, these conditions affect 20% of the global population.
- Globally, about 30% of people aged 65–74 years have no natural teeth, a burden expected to increase in the light of ageing populations.
- Oral conditions are the fourth most expensive to treat. In the United States alone, US$110 billion are spent yearly on oral healthcare. In the European Union, annual spending on oral healthcare was estimated at €79 billion in the years 2008-2012, which is more than the money invested in the care of cancer or respiratory diseases.
- Risk factors for oral disease include an unhealthy diet – particularly one rich in sugars – tobacco use, harmful alcohol use and poor oral hygiene.
- Oral disease is associated with significant pain and anxiety, as well as disfigurement, acute and chronic infections, eating and sleeps disruption, and can result in an impaired quality of life. In developing countries, this is exacerbated due to the lack of pain control and treatment not being readily available.
- Oral disease can impact every aspect of life – from relationships and self-confidence through to school, work, the ability to interact with others. It can also result in social isolation and reduced income.
- Oral health is essential to maintaining general health and well-being.