You know how important it is to keep your teeth in great shape with regular cleanings. Dental health, in general, is an important component of overall health, and something you should never overlook (no matter how tempting it might be to put it on the back burner). Still, from time to time it might be helpful to have a refresher on just how vital oral health (and by extension your dentist) is in the grand scheme of things. There are few things that hit harder than good old-fashioned statistics, so we’ve compiled some facts about your teeth and oral health that you may not have known, but are sure to stick with you.
92% of adults aged 20 to 64 suffer from some type of tooth decay. Though it is true that the number is on the decline, that’s still quite a high percentage! Females are affected slightly more than males. Whites more than Blacks and Mexicans, and the severity is greater for current smokers more than former smokers and total non-smokers. If you take a look at the stats, it also notes that there are approximately 5% of all adults aged 20 to 64 who have no teeth at all. Not only will tooth decay lead to pain and discomfort in the gums, but it will also cause bad breath, discoloration, and if left unchecked will cause your teeth to fall out. Tooth loss in turns leads to more health problems that will continue to compound. Your dentist can replace missing teeth with dental implants or dentures in cases where it is warranted.
Unchecked plaque buildup can lead to other oral health concerns. Those with high levels of plaque lose nearly five times as many teeth than those without significant plaque buildup. Plaque forces tooth decaying acids from sugary food to stay in contact with your teeth, increasing the amount of damage that they do. Though at first, it may not seem major, the resulting complications could severely impact your health and necessitate emergency care. Left to its own devices, plaque can cause gum disease by way of gingivitis, and will continue to wreak havoc on your mouth until dealt with promptly.
One study suggests that half of individuals believe their teeth are discolored. Though it’s a somewhat subjective matter, this is still significant. With so many people dissatisfied with the appearance of their teeth, cosmetic dental procedures, namely whitening, are poised to increase continually. An interesting side note is that two of the worst tooth staining offenders, coffee, and tobacco, seem to discolor teeth at roughly the same pace. Unfortunately, the effect is compounded as many who indulge in one activity also enjoy the other. Typical external tooth discoloring agents also include wine, soft drinks, and some foods. There are, of course, various internal factors at work when discussing tooth discoloration. Trauma, specific antibiotics, excessive fluoride exposure during childhood, and a rare condition (dentinogenesis imperfecta) all have the potential to result in unsightly colored teeth. There’s also the fact that as we age, our teeth yellow naturally, and that effect is exaggerated when an individual’s teeth have been damaged and poorly maintained.
Only 62% of adults aged 18-64 have had a dental visit within the prior year. Even though this is a majority, the number is still lower than what it should be. Generally speaking, individuals should get to the dentist twice a year for a regular visit, and there are those exceptional people with near flawless dental health who can skirt by with only one visit per year. If individuals are in a higher risk category, though, they should probably consider seeing the dentist more often. This group includes those already suffering from dental issues, those with diminished immune systems, diabetics, pregnant women, and smokers.
Did any of those stats throw you for a loop? It’s important to keep your mouth in good shape and remember that your dentist is in your corner for helping you treat any current conditions, or assist you with developing a game plan to keep your teeth healthier in the long run. They’re a friendly bunch that have your best interests at heart. Might it have something to do with “dentist” being the best job in America?
Image Credits: Wikipedia