GENERAL HEALTH/IMMUNE SYSTEM RISKS
It is well proven that general health supports oral health and oral health is essential to general health. Many general disease conditions also have oral manifestations that increase the risk of further oral disease and then in turn, these become risk factors for a number of general health conditions.
Approximately half of all deaths worldwide each year are caused by communicable diseases (CDs). The main infectious diseases are HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
The four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs) globally are cardio-vascular diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes.
Communicable diseases (effects on the mouth)
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus which if untreated can lead to the disease AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) and this attacks the body’s immune system.
People with HIV are likely to have more problems inside the mouth therefore need more regular and careful help from dental workers. Infections in the mouth affect soft skin tissue and can also cause ‘dry mouth’ especially for those taking ARV’s (Anti Retro Viral drugs) and this also increases the chance of tooth decay and gum disease. Some of these oral conditions relating to HIV are listed in the gallery.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection, one of the top ten causes of death worldwide,(95% of cases and deaths occurring in low income countries), and a leading killer of people who are HIV-positive. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs and can also occur in the mouth involving the tongue
Malaria is caused by a parasitic disease of the blood transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Currently, more than 50% of the global population are at risk of malarial infection. Oral symptoms are due to the systemic effects of the disease and to the side effects of prescribed medications and traditional treatments. High fevers can lead to dehydration and a dry mouth (xerostomia) which if left untreated can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Measles is a very contagious viral disease and remains one of the leading causes of death among young children. The virus infects the mucous membranes and a common sign in the mouth is Koplick spots found especially on the inside of the cheek as tiny white spots, Measles is still common in many low income countries where more than 95% of measles deaths occur.
MUMPS – koplick spots
Mumps is an infectious viral disease in children after the age of two but can also affect adults. The salivary glands swell and the patient has a raised temperature, feeling generally unwell.
Is commonly known as Lockjaw, is a serious bacterial infection affecting the nervous system. Common first signs of tetanus are a headache and muscular stiffness in the jaw (lockjaw) and this condition requires immediate medical attention in hospital where antibiotics and anti- toxins may be given
Non-communicable diseases (effects on the mouth)
CARDIO – VASCULAR DISEASE
[to be inserted – gum disease and heart disease debate…]
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CHRONIC RESPIRATORY DISEASE
The drug regime used in the treatment of patients with COPD can have profound implications for clinical dental practice, manifested as dry mouth or oral candidiasis. There is also increasing evidence of a link between COPD and both gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and periodontal disease.
You may know that the disease can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys and heart, as well as other parts of your body. Diabetes can lower your resistance to infection and can slow the healing process. The most common oral health problems associated with diabetes are tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, salivary gland dysfunction, fungal infections, lichen planus and lichenoid reactions (inflammatory skin disease), infection and delayed healing and taste impairment.
SICKLE CELL ANAEMIA
Sickle cell anaemia is an inherited disease and though treatments exist, they are not widely available in sub-Saharan Africa, where 70 percent of the world’s children with sickle cell disease are born and sufferers of this illness can die prematurely.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder involving recurrent seizures. Oral problems are caused by the drug Phenytoin – used to control epilepsy, which can produce ‘gingival hyperplasia’, a condition that results in painful, swollen, red gums. A variety of other general medications can also lead to this condition.
Non-communicable diseases and oral diseases share common risk factors. It is to these risk that we now turn…
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