Oral Health

Abstract What is the full meaning of oral health and its importance to general health and well-being? It is stated in the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial research that oral health is integral to general health. According to the Namibian Dental Association, dentistry dates all the way back to the early Egyptian civilization. One major barrier to oral health is the access to insurance. Several American are without dental insurance and feel that they do not need to receive routine dental visits. Many theories exist and more studies are underway to explore the connection between good oral health and the overall health of a person.

Oral Health is mostly affected in the greatest ethnic and racial disparity among children is seen between ages 2 – 4 and 6 – 8 in Mexican American and Black, Non-Hispanic children, Blacks, Non-Hispanics and Mexican Americans. Oral Health is essential to your health as the head is to the body. If you maintain good oral health, it can prevent other diseases such as gum disease which can cause periodontal and the loss of jaw bones. There are many other connections to your overall physical health due to bad oral health such as periodontal, cardiovascular, and diabetes.

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Oral health affects many races and age groups. In this paper, you will learn more of the benefits and reasons of why you should maintain good oral health. Healthy People 2010 Oral Health “Oral Health is an essential and integral component of health throughout life. No one can truly be healthy unless he or she is free from the burden and of oral health and craniofacial diseases and conditions. ” (Excerpt from the report Healthy People 2010: Oral Health) Oral Health is inseparable to general health. It affects one’s self-esteem and quality of life.

More specifically, it affects how we communicate, our ability to eat, our choice of foods, our social interactions at school and work, and how we sleep. As a nation, we need to know the importance of good oral health and how it may affect our overall health.

Healthy People 2010 identified the most significant preventable threats to health and have established goals to increase the quality and the years of life as well as eliminate health disparities. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy People 2010: Oral Health) History According to Namibian Dental Association (2011), “it is believed that the oldest civilization that knew something of dentistry was Egypt (p. 1). ”

After examination of exhumed bodies, researchers discovered that there were several wounds in the mouth, but no evidence of restoring lost teeth. However, dentistry did not become a profession until the nineteenth century. Prior to this time extractions were performed by barber-surgeons. The term “dentist” was taken from the French language. And it was used to describe tooth operators. In 1790 Lt. George Washington was known for having the first “dental foot engine” dentures designed by Dr.

John Greenwood. These dentures are different because they were made of hippopotamus tusk instead of wood. Dr. John Greenwood was the son of first Native American dentist, Isaac Greenwood. Baltimore College of Dental Surgery was founded in 1840 in Maryland. This is the oldest dental school in the world. According to Aetna (2004), “African Americans were not accepted for training at any dental schools until 1867, when Harvard University initiated its first dental class and accepted Robert T. Freeman as its first black student (p. 1)”. Then in 1881 Howard University’s dental college was founded in Washington, D.

C. The first African American female dentist was Ida Gray. She received a doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Michigan in 1890. In 1900 the Washington Society of Colored Dentists was founded in Washington, D. C. This was the first organization for black dentists. In 1907 the name was changed to the Robert T. Freeman Dental Society. Today, the organization has 7,000 members. Access to Care Children as young as three years old learn about the importance of brushing their teeth. There are hundreds of tooth paste and tooth brush commercials that are viewed by millions in America every day.

But, why is Oral Health listed as one of the focus areas on the Healthy People 2010? One major barrier to Oral Health access is financial. Thousands of Americans are without dental insurance and they feel that they do not need to receive routine dental visits. And over a period of time they feel that there is no need for any dental treatment. According to Public Health (2011), “there are three major barriers to dental health access: structural, financial and cultural (p. 1). ” South Carolina has several rural areas that are affected by these three barriers. One town in particular is Bethune, South Carolina.

During the year 2000 Census it was discovered that the town consisted of 352 people, 165 households and 104 families. African Americans only account for 9. 66% of the population. About 5. 3% of families and 7. 2% of the population were below the poverty line. Several families do not have sufficient transportation. The town does not have a dental clinic. Therefore, the majority of people believe in home remedies that have been passed down from generation after generation. However, in order to change and break down these three barriers society must educate the people.

Currently, several small children from Bethune attend the Kershaw County Head Start program. This program is federally funded. According to the National Head Start Association (2010), “In the world of Head Start, everyday actions make an enormous difference in the lives of the families we serve – like sitting down in the home with parents who are both out of work to talk about stresses on the children; or providing dental care to a child who has never seen a dentist; or providing nutritious meals to children whose parents sometimes have to choose between paying the rent and buying food.

Ensuring that the most vulnerable children and families are served by Head Start and Early Head Start must be a given. There is too much at stake. (p. 1). ” The State Action for Oral Health Access initiative was launched in 2002 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to address the disparities in access to dental services for low-income children and adults. The initiative was managed by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS). Under the initiative, six states developed programs to address the multi-faceted challenges of improving the oral health delivery system.

(Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. : Catalyzing Improvements in Oral Health Care: Best Practices from the State Action for Oral Health Access Initiative). In South Carolina, Bright Futures has been an integral tool in the State’s efforts to improve children’s oral health. These efforts focused initially on school age children and, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, have expanded to address the oral health needs of younger children, including infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, as well as children with special health care needs.

The State’s Department of Health and the Environment (DHEC) has spearheaded the use of Bright Futures in Practice: Oral Health in policy development, family and community education and outreach, and provider training initiatives designed to address the oral health goals outlined in Healthy People 2010. (South Carolina Department of Health and the Environment: South Carolina’s Bright Futures Story) Medicaid At one time persons receiving Medicaid were eligible for dental services. But, due to the economy several services have been discontinued.

In South Carolina, Medicaid will cover recipient’s dental services from birth up to the month of their twenty-first birthday. Therefore, persons over age twenty-one are not eligible for dental services including emergency services. This regulation became effective on February 1, 2011. Oral health is a window that reflects how Medicaid, as well as the broader U. S. health care systems, is meeting the needs of all Americans. In many ways, the widespread lack of access to oral health services reflects the challenges facing Medicaid for providing quality health services for its 55 million beneficiaries.

Although Medicaid is the largest single purchaser of health care for children and provides a comprehensive Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit, Medicaid is not fulfilling its obligation of oral health care coverage. Approximately 80 percent of dental caries (tooth decay) is concentrated in 25 percent of U. S. children – mostly low-income children – with even higher levels of caries found in African-American and Hispanic children.

In most states, less than one in four Medicaid children had an annual dental visit – leading to the unenviable statistic that dental care is now the most unmet treatment need in children. (Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. : Catalyzing Improvements in Oral Health Care: Best Practices from the State Action for Oral Health Access Initiative) Medicaid programs have begun to embrace the idea of becoming better purchasers of dental services and better supporters of a more holistic view of primary care; however, as the science of oral health advances, so too must state Medicaid programs.

Medicaid can transform itself into being a leader of purchasing and delivering high quality oral health care. To do so, it must embrace the problem, implement new programs, and measure results. In doing so, Medicaid can succeed in eliminating disparities in oral health care and improve the lives of millions of Americans. (Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. : Catalyzing Improvements in Oral Health Care: Best Practices from the State Action for Oral Health Access Initiative) Result good and bad oral health Many theories exist and more studies are underway to explore the connection between good oral health and overall health.

As the old saying goes, the head bone is connected to the neck bone, that is the same for oral health, it affects other areas of the body. Despite the differing opinions on this topic, one thing is clear: a healthy mouth leads only to good things. The keys to maintaining good oral health are: to regularly see your dentist, preferably every six months, brushing and flossing once to twice daily, which can remove the food particles which remains in your mouth that will cause bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, brushing the tongue will help eliminate bad breath and to use mouth wash to help keep the breath fresh and clean.

The best time to start your oral health regimen is when your child starts teething, you should take a wet cloth and wash around the gums to assure no particular is left on the gums at night. When your child gets its first tooth, you should take the child to the dentist to check the gums and teeth, at this time you should introduce the child to brushing. Good oral health will help to maintain your teeth for a life time. However, there are many causes to bad oral health, something as simple as to the foods we eat.

They are broken down in our mouth and as the foods are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, they are carried to the lungs and gives off in your breath and cause bad breath. Smoking and chewing tobacco products can also result to bad breath and cause you to have a bad taste in your mouth, stain teeth and also reduce the ability to taste food. Consist bad breath or bad taste in the mouth will cause periodontal disease, which is a gum disease due to a buildup of plague on the teeth and will eventually cause toxins to form in the mouth and irritate the gums causing periodontal gum disease and if untreated will damage the gums and jawbones.

Bad oral health can cause other disease as well. Diseases as the Result of Bad Oral Health Other diseases are caused as the result of not maintaining good oral health, such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, heart disease, stroke, oral cancer, and diabetes; as stated in the paragraph above. Below we will discuss the diseases individually. Gingivitis is an inflection to the gums, it causes the gums to become red, swollen and may bleed while bleeding. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene and can be reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.

(American Academy of Periodontology) Untreated gingivitis can cause serious inflection which may lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis is untreated gingivitis which will cause plague that grows below the gums that produces toxins and bacteria. If you get periodontitis at this time you will have to see a specialist for treatment. Periodontitis can result in loss of teeth due to the bones which support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. There are many forms of periodontitis. Aggressive periodontitis occurs in clinically health patient; however it has rapid loss of bone which to aggregation.

Chronic periodontitis usually has inflammation in the supporting tissues of the teeth which is seen mostly in adults but can occur in younger age. Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases is found in young adults and associated with heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes. Necrotizing periodontitis disease is an infection characterized by necrosis of gingival tissues, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. These lesions are most commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions such as HIV infections, malnutrition and immunosuppression.

(American Academy of Periodontology) However, research proves that up to 33% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. (American Academy of Periodontology) Also there are times in a woman’s life when special care is needed due to changes in life, example, puberty, pregnancy, and menopause due to hormonal changes. As you probably know, stress is linked to many serious conditions, but you may not know that stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease.

Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off inflection, including periodontal diseases. (American Academy of Periodontology) Oral Cancer is a subtype of the head and neck, cancerous issue growth located in the oral cavity. It may arise as a lesion originating in any of the oral tissues by metastasis from a distant site of origin, or by extension from a neighboring anatomic structure, such as the nasal cavity. It may also originate in any of the tissues of the mouth. (Wikipedia).

There are several types of oral cancers, but around 90% are squamous-cell carcinomas originating in the tissues that line the mouth and lips. Oral or mouth cancer most commonly involves the tongue. It may also occur on the floor of the mouth, cheek lining, gingiva (gums), lips, or palate (roof of the mouth (Wikipedia,) Most cases of oral cancer are linked to cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol use, or the use of both tobacco and alcohol together, although certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) may also play a part in oral cancer.

(U. S. Department of Health and Human Services) Oral cancer twice as frequently in men as women and African American men are of the greatest risk. (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services) However, one of the biggest oral health problem is early decay in infants; known as baby-bottle tooth decay, which results when babies routinely fall asleep with bottles filled with sugary liquids such as milk, formula, and juices.

(American Dental Hygienists’ Association) Although oral health is found in infants and children, the risk of oral cancer increases with age. According to the Mayo Clinic, not only are healthy teeth and gums necessary for a bright and beautiful smile, but your oral health may affect, be affected by or contribute to various diseases or conditions.

Medscape Reference describes Endocadititis as an infection of the endocardial surface of the heart, which may include one or more heart valves, the mural endocardium, or a septal defect. Gum disease and dental procedures that cut your gums may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream and if you have a weak immune system or damaged heart valve, this can cause infection in other parts of the body-such as an infection of the inner lining of the heart. WebMD states that heart disease includes conditions affecting the heart, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U. S. Keys to prevention include quitting smoking, lowering cholesterol, controlling high blood pressure, and maintaining good oral health, a healthy weight, and exercising. (Brusch, 2011) Premature birth and low birth weight: As stated in Mail Online Health, a new study has revealed yet another reason why you should look after your teeth is that it reduces a pregnant woman’s risk of giving birth too early.

The research found women with gum disease were over three times more likely to give birth prematurely than mothers-to-be with good oral health. They also had a one in four chance of giving birth before 35 weeks. More than 1,000 pregnant women between six and 20 weeks gestation were followed for the study. The 160 participants diagnosed with periodontal (gum) disease were compared to the 872 pregnant women who had good levels of oral health.

The results showed that subjects who were treated for the condition with scaling and root planning were significantly less likely to have a preterm birth at less than 35 weeks (Daily Mail Reporter, 2010). Diabetes as most people are aware is a link with oral health and many other conditions such as blindness and foot pain. However, many people may not know that there is also a link between diabetes and oral health. Diabetes is a condition that affects the entire body. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection-putting the gums at risk.

In addition, people who have inadequate blood sugar control may develop more frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth than do people who have good blood sugar control. There are a number of factors in regards to diabetes and oral health. There are a number of factors that should be noted in regards to diabetes and oral health. It is believed that individuals that do not have proper control over the amount of glucose in their blood streams are most likely to develop serious problems with their oral health as a result of their diabetes.

There are a several reasons that this happens. The high levels of glucose in the blood can also appear in the mouth resulting in increased levels of sugar in the saliva. This can cause a significant amount of decay of the gums and teeth (American Diabetes Association, 2011). Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and brittle and may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss and tooth loss before age 35 may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

Statistics Oral health disparities are complicated in the United States. Despite major improvements in oral health for the population as a whole, oral health disparities exist for many racial and ethnic groups, by socioeconomic status, gender, age and geographic location (Centers for Disease Control, 2009). Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians generally have the poorest oral health of any racial and ethnic groups in the United States (Oral Cancer Foundation, 2006). African American adults are more likely to

have gum disease and to develop oral or pharyngeal cancer (Oral Cancer Foundation, 2006). Children living in low-income families are at a higher risk for oral disease and untreated tooth decay (Kids Count, 2006). The racial disparity seen in oral health are contributed to the children living in poverty. A report showed that 55 percent of Mexican-American children between the ages of 2 and 11 experiences cavities in their primary teeth compared to 43 percent of Black non-Hispanics and 38 percent of White non-Hispanic children (Centers for Disease Control, 2005).

Thirty-two percent of Mexican -American children ages 2 thru 11 had untreated tooth decay in their primary teeth compared to 27 percent of Black non-Hispanic and 18 percent of White non-Hispanic children (Centers for Disease Control, 2005). People living in low-income families bear a disproportionate burden from oral diseases and conditions (DHEC, 2005). Furthermore, the decay seen in individuals of all ages from poor families are more likely to be untreated than decay in those living above the poverty level (DHEC, 2005).

Low-income children have the greatest odds of having tooth decay, have the most severe experience with tooth decay, and are most likely to have untreated cavities (USDHHS, 2000). Approximately 430,000 children in South Carolina (with 42 percent of those younger than 18) live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and are at high risk for tooth decay (NCCP, 2006). Adults who have at least some college education or have completed a bachelor’s, master’s or professional degree have 2 to 2.

5 times less destructive periodontal disease than do adults with high school (30 percent) or with less than high school levels of education (USDHHS, 2000). Overall, a higher percentage of Americans living below the poverty level have lost their natural teeth than those living above the poverty level (USDHHS, 2000). The comparative connectivity of women, compromised physical status over time, and the combined effects of multiple chronic conditions and side effects from multiple medications used to treat them and can result in increased risk of oral disease (Redford, 1993).

Many women live in poverty, are not insured, and are the sole head of their household. In addition, gender-role expectations of women may not only affect their interaction with dental care providers, but could also affect treatment recommendations. Both African American and White women have a substantially lower incidence rate of oral and pharyngeal cancers than do African American and White men (Redford, 1993). Residents of rural and very rural counties are at high risk of having poor oral health outcomes for several reasons.

Residents of rural counties are also more likely to be less educated and to have more behavioral risk factors. So, oral health has many disparities in the United States. The economic factors that often relate to poor oral health include access to health services and an individual’s ability to get and keep dental insurance. Conclusion The health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body. Regular dentist visits can do more than keep your smile attractive, they can tell the dentist a lot about your overall health.

The consequences of severe untreated dental disease, in children and adults, are devastating. The health care impact also can be traced through increased spending for avoidable services. These services include emergency room visits due to untreated disease, operating room procedures for dental conditions that were not treated as an earlier stage, or hospital inpatient stays when dental infections expand into systemic infections that require IVs and antibiotics.

To eliminate disparities in access to health care and increase the quality of life for all people, the U.S. must face the challenges by developing state financing, broadening the provider network, enhancing consumer and provider, and enhancing the dental safety net. Resource Aetna. (2004). Retrieved October 2011, from 2004 African American History Calendar:

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