The tooth decay rate among Taiwanese children aged five to six is as high as 80 percent and the adult rate is more than 80 percent, the Association for Dental Sciences said yesterday, urging people to practice good oral hygiene to prevent cavities and related diseases.
A Health Promotion Administration survey found that the prevalence of periodontal disease among Taiwanese is the highest in Asia, with an estimated 99.2 percent of the population affected by some degree of the disease and 54.2 percent having periodontal pockets, the deepening of the natural crevice between the teeth and gums that indicates the infection of the gums.
National Yang-Ming University associate professor of dentistry Chi Lin-yang (季麟揚) said the problem is due to the lack of fluoride in our environment.
“Water or salt fluoridations, or adding fluoride to the public water supply, or even salt, are methods supported by empirical evidence that prevent cavities in children and adults,” he said.
“However, the practice has long been objected to by many, especially environmentalists, who believe that water should be kept natural and clear of chemicals,” he added.
Chi recommended fluoride toothpaste, fluoride rinse and the routine application of fluoride to teeth as ways to prevent tooth decay.
“And to make sure that your teeth have been brushed properly and plaque completely removed, dental plaque disclosing solutions can be used,” Chi said.
While both tooth decay and periodontitis are associated with dental plaque, the infection of the gums can also occur in people without cavities, Chi said.
He added that 1g of dental plaque contains more than 10 billion bacteria, with different kinds of bacteria causing different infections.
“Periodontitis is like a landslide in the oral cavity: The trees might be growing well, but if the base, or in this case the gum, gets infected and left untreated, the infection will destroy the soft tissue and the bone that support teeth,” Chi said.
A recent study has also suggested that periodontitis is associated with increased risk of stroke, with people diagnosed with periodontitis two times more likely to have a stroke than those without, the administration said.
The administration added that it has also been shown by studies that poor oral health is associated with a higher death rate caused by cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Swollen and bleeding gums, new spaces developing between the teeth and persistent bad breath are “three scary signs” indicating the presence of periodontitis, said administration president William Lih-jyh Fuh (傅立志), advising those exhibiting the symptoms to seek dental care immediately.