Dental conditions that can be prevented (part 2)
Crooked or misaligned teeth are a result of a genetic influence predisposed by a racial preponderance, for example most commonly occurring in the Celtic and Japanese races and least commonly in Slav and African. The most common malocclusions (badly ‘arranged and fitting’ teeth) are those where there is not enough space in the jaw bones for all thirty two human teeth. Consequently the teeth come through very crooked or overlapping and wisdom teeth are often impacted. The most common treatment approach (tooth straightening and alignment) comes within the remit of the dental speciality of orthodontics.
Prevention, at least of more complex treatment that may be required in teenage or adulthood, can be achieved by early recognition and in many cases, early interceptive treatment.
Front tooth ‘open bite’ bite problems resulting from habits such as early habitual and continuous thumb-sucking, for example need to be recognised and addressed in the young child. If the habit continues into later childhood and adolescence, it causes a worse ‘dental deformity’ problem whereby upper and lower front teeth don’t meet; functionally can’t ‘cut’ and the smile is un-aesthetic.
Root canal treatments
These are almost always caused by dental decay that has gone untreated for too long. The infection finally penetrates into the centre of the tooth and its root canal(s) causing inflammation and subsequently the ‘death’ of the nerves. Essentially, the ‘live’ internal parts of the tooth become gangrenous! This is totally preventable.
Not infrequently trauma (e.g. a ‘blow) to a tooth may cause the death of a tooth nerve(s). That is a condition that still requires root canal treatment to treat it, but obviously may not be able to be avoided. However, protective mouth-guards worn during ‘contact’ sports protect teeth from sports injuries.
Cancer of any form is terrible bad luck and any form of oral cancer can be particularly devastating in many respects. Obviously, every cancer, caught early, is more treatable and more curable. Regular visits to a dentist, who should always keep an eye out and check for oral cancer, should be able to recognise any signs early.
There is no doubt that heavy alcohol consumption, tobacco use and poor oral hygiene greatly increase the chances of getting this terrible condition. So having those bad habits doesn’t exactly stack the chances in favour of the individual!
Dental, oral and facial trauma
Obviously any occurrence that results in destruction to parts of teeth or teeth as a whole due to such trauma, require dental treatments to restore dental health, function and aesthetics. The indications for the protection to the face and teeth is self-evident. That applies to mouth guards and helmets worn during certain contact sports (rugby, cricket, boxing etc.); helmets for cyclists (they are legally mandatory for motorcyclists, as are the use seat belts for cars).
Other rather rare dental conditions
There are examples: congenital absence of some or even all teeth, malformation of teeth, dental problems associated with certain medical syndromes and other aberrances that are really very rare.
So, as was mentioned in last week’s blog – almost all dental problems are entirely preventable, or at least more easily treatable if caught early, the earlier the better. It comes down to education. Something certainly the government via NHS dentistry seems to be woefully lacking in providing!