Dentistry is a specialized branch of medicine that deals with the study, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity (mouth with all structures within including teeth, gums, tongue, etc.). As per World Health Organization (WHO), it is appropriately defined as the ‘art and science’ of preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries and malformations of the teeth, jaws and mouth. It is really an art as well as science which makes smiles better while also treating many diseases.
A dentist is a medical professional who aims to improve the quality of lives by preventing and treating oral diseases and conditions. The dentist's supporting team is also very important, and it aids in providing oral health services and also handling many procedures apart from assisting the dentist. It includes dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and in some states, dental therapists.
The dentists achieve the above by:
- Promoting good oral health practices and educating people about them
- Patient education
- Diagnosing dental diseases and conditions including dental decay, gum diseases, etc.
- They may also diagnose some general conditions by just looking at oral cavity, because some diseases and conditions have oral manifestations
- Providing preventive dental and oral care, like restoring slightly decayed teeth, covering them with thin layer of restorative materials, providing treatments to prevent further problems by cleaning, scaling, root planning, application of fluoride, etc.
- Prescribing appropriate medicines to treat some oral diseases, to prevent or allay infections, and for all three prophylactic, preventive and promotive purposes
- Treating and restoring decayed teeth by appropriate materials
- Replacing lost teeth by implants, dentures, partial dentures, etc.
- Treating other conditions of mouth, related structures and even jaw
- Also undertaking some surgical procedures, most common of them being tooth extraction
- Providing orthodontic treatment to adjust and correct mal-aligned teeth
- And many other functions as per further specialization.
Secondhand Smoke Bad for Gums
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Exposure to second hand smoke may increase the risk of gum disease, results of recent studies suggest. Nonsmokers inhaling environmental tobacco smoke at work or home increased their chances of developing periodontal disease about 1.5 times.
Even though this increase in risk is much smaller than the increase in risk associated with active cigarette smoking (which is up to five times greater), environmental tobacco smoke could account for many cases of periodontal disease worldwide.
Although periodontal disease can include several diseases such as Gingivitis and Periodontitis the researchers looked specifically for the more severe form, Periodontitis, which destroys the soft tissues and bone that support teeth. Ultimately, the disease can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
It has been found that among adults who had never smoked cigarettes, about 11% of those exposed to environmental tobacco smoke in their homes or at work had periodontal disease. The results indicate an association between secondhand smoke and the gum destroying disease may exist, although it is still early to say so and needs more research.
The bottom line, however, is “Periodontal disease is treatable, but it is best to catch it early”.