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Dental Patient Knowledge

Oral Health


Oral health is an essential component of health throughout life. Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life. They can affect the most basic human needs, including the ability to eat and drink, swallow, maintain proper nutrition, smile, and communicate.

Oral health is a state of being free from chronic mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral sores, birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay and tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that affect the oral cavity. Risk factors for oral diseases include unhealthy diet, tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, and poor oral hygiene.


Oral diseases share common risk factors with the four leading chronic diseases -- cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes -- including unhealthy diet, tobacco use, and harmful alcohol use. Poor oral hygiene is also a risk factor.


  • The most common oral diseases are dental cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.
  • 60-90% of school children worldwide have dental cavities.
  • Severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 5-20% of middle-aged adults; the rate varies across geographical regions.
  • Incidence of oral cancer ranges from one to 10 cases per 100 000 population in most countries.
  • Birth defects such as cleft lip and palate occur in around one per 500-700 of all births; the birth prevalence rate varies substantially across ethnic groups and geographical areas.
  • 40-50% of people who are HIV-positive have oral fungal, bacterial or viral infections, which often occur early in the course of HIV infection.
  • Traditional curative dental care is a significant economic burden for many high-income countries, where 5-10% of public health expenditure relates to oral health.


The burden of oral diseases and other chronic diseases can be decreased simultaneously by addressing common risk factors such as tobacco use and unhealthy diet:

  • Decreased intake of sugars and well-balanced nutrition prevent tooth decay and premature tooth loss.
  • Tobacco cessation and decreased alcohol consumption reduce risk for oral cancers, periodontal disease, and tooth loss.
  • Fruit and vegetable consumption is protective against oral cancer.
  • Effective use of protective sports and motor vehicle equipment reduces facial injuries.

Dental cavities can be prevented by a low level of fluoride constantly maintained in the oral cavity. Fluoride can be obtained from fluoridated drinking water, salt, milk, mouth rinse or toothpaste, as well as from professionally-applied fluorides. Long-term exposure to an optimal level of fluoride results in fewer cavities in both children and adults.

By using these prevention strategies, the high cost of dental treatments can be avoided.

Dental Patient Links

WHO (World Health Organization) Texas A&M Health Science Center
CDC (Center for Disease Control) The American Academy Of General Dentistry
ADA (American Dental Association) Astra Tech - Dental USA
TDA (Texas Dental Association) Straumann
DCDS (Dallas County Dental Society) NIDCR

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