Fast Facts on Oral Health

Accessing Oral Health Care in Illinois

Oral health is more than just healthy teeth.  Oral refers to the mouth, which includes the teeth, gums, and supporting tissues. Oral health is an important part of overall health, well-being, and directly affects your quality of life.

Diseases and disorders that can affect oral health include:

  • Tooth decay and periodontal or gum disease.
  • Viral infections, including cold and canker sores.
  • Birth defects, such as cleft lip and palate, and missing all or most t...read more

Audience:

Adults, General

Anticipatory Guidance and Fluoride Varnish Application for the Medical Provider

Medical providers can do fluoride varnish applications. Beginning at the 6 month of age visit, physicians should counsel caregivers on oral health, perform a dental screening for visual signs of decay and assess the child’s oral health, and provide anticipatory guidance. Physicians should refer children to a dental home for routine and periodic preventive dental care within six months of the eruption of the first tooth or by age 1, as per recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics ...read more

Audience:

Adults, Children, General

Breastfeeding and Oral Health

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and important activities for mom and baby. The benefits to the infant include improved nutrition, fewer illnesses, a stronger immune system, physical and developmental growth benefits, and reduced risk of chronic diseases and allergy. Benefits to maternal health include increased physiologic postpartum recovery and reduced long-term risk of obesity, osteoporosis, and breast and ovarian cancers.

  • Breastfeeding may help build a better bite
  • ...read more

Audience:

Adults, Women

Careers in Oral Health Care

General Dentist

A general dentist (DDS or DMD) is the primary oral health care provider. The general dentist diagnoses, treats, and manages the overall oral health of their patients. 

Job Outlook

Overall employment of dentists is projected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The demand for dental services is expected to increase as the population ages and as research continues to link oral health to overall health. Dental Sc...read more

Audience:

Adults, Careers, General

Caring for Your Dentures

There are two types of dentures:

  • A full denture is made to replace all the teeth in the upper and lower jaw. This type of denture is held in your mouth by your gums, the bone underneath, and soft tissues
  • A partial denture is made when you have some natural teeth. Your natural teeth (and gums) are used to hold the partial denture in place. You can have a partial denture made for the upper or lower jaw

Audience:

Adults

Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

What are cleft lip and cleft palate?

Cleft lip/palate occurs when a baby’s lip or mouth do not form properly during pregnancy. It is the fourth most common birth defect and occurs in 1 in every 1,600 babies in the United States. A cleft lip is a separation of the upper lip. The cleft can occur on one or both sides of the lip. A cleft palate is a separation of the top of the mouth. Like cleft lip, the cleft palate also can occur on one or both sides of the top of the mouth.

Audience:

Children, General

Daily Care of Your Teeth

Health and well-being include all aspects and parts of the body, including the mouth Unfortunately, tooth decay or dental caries (cavities) and periodontal disease are bacterially mediated processes that infect many children, most adults, and the elderly.

The main diseases in the mouth are:

  • tooth decay
  • gingivitis (gum disease)
  • periodontal disease

These can be almost completely avoided by the daily removal of plaque bacteria.

...read more

Audience:

Homecare

Dental and Dental Hygiene Schools in Illinois

A general dentist (DDS or DMD) is the primary care dental provider. There are 3 dental schools in Illinois. A dental hygienist will clean teeth, take X-rays, evaluate for gum infection and periodontal disease, and apply sealants and fluoride treatments. There are 13 colleges in Illinois with dental hygiene programs.

Audience:

Careers, General

Dental Health During Pregnancy

Good oral health is extremely important during pregnancy and routine dental care can be provided safely. The following are strategies to help improve your dental health during pregnancy. Nutrition is very important during pregnancy. Hormone changes can make your gums hurt, swell, or bleed. It is safe and important to see your dentist and dental hygienist during your pregnancy.

Audience:

Adults, Women

Denture Adhesives

Denture adhesives are a paste, powder, gel, or adhesive pad that helps dentures adhere to the supporting tissues instead of relying on suction or clasps. These products are safe on a limited basis and do not contain Zinc. The dentist can check for sores caused by an ill-fitting denture and adjust it.

Audience:

Adults

Diabetes and Your Oral Health

Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. Both type I and type II cases result in high blood sugar levels, which can harm the mouth, eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, and other parts of the body. Diabetes is associated with gum disease (periodontal disease). Gum disease can be more severe and take longer to heal if you have diabetes.

Audience:

General, Health

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

E-cigarettes, vapes, vape or hookah pens, vaporizers, e-pipes, vape watches, and other electronic nicotine delivery products are electronic, battery-powered devices that heat a liquid and allow users to inhale the aerosolized liquid, also known as e-liquid or e-juice. These devices come in many shapes and sizes. Some look like a regular cigarette, but many resemble everyday products like pens, USB drives, highlighting markers, or colorful toy-like items. E-cigarettes are not safe for youth, y...read more

Audience:

Adults, General, Health

Early Childhood Tooth Decay

Early childhood caries (tooth decay or cavities) develops when bacteria in the mouth breakdown sugars to produce acid. Dental caries is the most prevalent chronic disease of children in the United States that is largely preventable. Common high sugar food/drink sources are sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit-based and milk-based sweetened drinks, 100% fruit juices, pureed baby food pouches, cakes, cookies, sweetened cereals, sweet desserts, candy, honey, and syrups.

Audience:

Children, Homecare

Flossing Your Teeth

Flossing will remove plaque germs from between and under the gumline of your teeth. These germs are hard to remove with a toothbrush alone. The use of dental floss and toothbrushing together helps to remove germs that cause cavities and gum disease.

How to floss:

Wrap about an arm's length piece of floss around the middle finger of each hand.

Audience:

Homecare

Fluoride to Prevent Tooth Decay

The best protection from dental caries (tooth decay, cavities) is good oral hygiene, a healthy diet of low sugar food and beverages, the mineral fluoride, and dental sealants. Fluoride has resulted in a tremendous reduction of tooth decay and loss of teeth in the Illinois population. Fluoride is a mineral your body needs to grow and be healthy. Fluoride makes teeth and bones strong, and it protects your teeth against decay.

Audience:

Children, General

How to Brighten Your Smile

Tooth Whitening or Bleaching

Teeth whitening or bleaching from the outside of the tooth may remove surface stains. Some products bleach surface stains and stains inside the tooth. For some types of staining, a dentist will have to perform the bleaching from inside the tooth. Whitening or bleaching options are toothpaste, in-office or at-home (OTC) whitening or bleaching. Sometimes tooth sensitivity or irritation of gums can occur.

Audience:

General, Homecare

Human Papillomavirus and Your Oral Health

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and can cause genital warts and, later in life, six types of cancers. HPV is linked with 70% of mouth and throat-related cancers. There are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening. Boys and girls should get two doses of HPV vaccine 6 to 12 months apart at age 11 or 12 to prevent HPV infections from causing cancers in the mouth, throat.

Audience:

Adults, General, Health

Oral Cancer Facts

Mouth and Throat Cancers

They are most often seen in these areas:

  • Tongue
  • Tonsils and Throat
  • The floor of the Mouth and other parts of the Mouth

There is has been an increase in cases of Throat Cancer linked to Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection in both men and women.  For the first time, there is a vaccine that can prevent cancer and is safe and effective.

Risk Factors

  1. Use of Tobacco and Tobacco Products
  2. Heav...read more

Audience:

General, Health

Oral Care for the Orthodontic Patient

The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to create a healthy, functional bite that allows straight teeth to properly meet opposing teeth in the opposite jaw. Crooked or crowded teeth make it harder to bite, to chew, and to speak and makes it more difficult to clean your teeth. Proper and frequent brushing along with flossing daily will help to keep your teeth in good condition while wearing braces. Eating healthy foods is imperative for those who wear braces. A balanced diet of nutritious food...read more

Audience:

General, Homecare

Oral Health and Learning

“You cannot educate a child who is not healthy, and you cannot keep a child healthy who is not educated.” - Joycelyn Elders, M.D., former U.S. Surgeon General

Health and well-being include all body parts, including the mouth. Good oral health supports life-long health, learning, job success, and relationships with others. Unfortunately, many children suffer from painful tooth decay (cavities) that can impact learning and life in many ways. The best protection from cavities is ...read more

Audience:

Children, General

Oral Health Care Pain Management Options

If you think you have a drug or substance abuse problem, please call 833-2FINDHELP or text “HELP” to 833234

For mouth or jaw pain, schedule a visit with your doctor to learn the cause of your pain and learn what type of pain management will be the most effective. The source of pain needs to be directly addressed, otherwise, when pain medication wears off, the pain will breakthrough.
Acute pain may be due to oral disease or injury and usually last from days to less than four wee...read more

Audience:

Adults, General, Health

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also sometimes called gum disease, is a bacterial infection that causes swelling of the gums around teeth. Over time, if not treated, periodontal disease can result in the loss of the bone that holds teeth in the jaw. This infection in the gum and bone is the most common cause of tooth loss and professional treatment may be needed to stop it. Lost bone will not grow back but you can, with proper tooth brushing and flossing, bring the gums and supporting bone back to healt...read more

Audience:

Adults, General

Protect your Teeth With Dental Sealant

Dental sealants are thin coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent decay (or cavities). Most tooth decay in children and teenagers occurs on the chewing surfaces where pits and grooves trap food and germs. Sealants fill in these pits and grooves so germs cannot get inside the tooth and break down the tooth. Applying sealants does not take away any part of the natural tooth.

Stopping a tooth from needing a dental filling by using dental sealants saves the too...read more

Audience:

Children, General

Quitting Smokeless Tobacco

Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. Quitting lowers your chance of getting mouth cancers. It will make your teeth look better and your breath smell better. Save the money you would have spent on tobacco and treat yourself to something you would not usually purchase. Try chewing sugarless gum instead. You can also talk to a professional for assistance with quitting.

Audience:

General, Health

Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) may be an easy and affordable choice for your dental care.

SDF facts for parents and caregivers for the elderly

SDF is a liquid medicine that a dentist or dental hygienist will apply directly to a cavity to stop the cavity from developing and getting bigger. It is painless, but it does stain the tooth black where it is applied. SDF should not be used if the patient has an allergy to silver. Also, if there is soft tissue irritation, ulceration, gin...read more

Audience:

General

Sugary Drinks and Foods

When trying to prevent cavities, it is important to watch what you eat and especially what you drink. It is surprising how much sugar is in our drinks and food. Make water your main beverage. Fruit juices, fruit flavored punches, soft drinks, sports drinks, flavored waters, food pouches, and sweetened coffee all have high sugar content.

Audience:

General, Health, Homecare

The Community Health Worker and Oral Health

Community health workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers who have a close understanding of the communities they serve.  The CHWs are vital for language, cultural, and trust barriers that might exist with clients who are navigating the health care system.  CHW’s can also assist with access to care for dental needs that their clients may require.

Audience:

Careers, General

The Perinatal Period Infants and Oral Health

Tooth decay is the number one childhood disease that is largely preventable.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recognizes that perinatal and infant oral health are the foundations upon which preventive education and dental care can enhance the opportunity for a child to have a lifetime free from preventable oral disease. Per the AAPD, the perinatal period begins at the 20th-28th week of gestation at the 20th to 28th week of g...read more

Audience:

General, Women

Tobacco Facts

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking is costly to your health because nicotine is highly addictive. The need to smoke (or chew) speeds up the progress of cancers, heart disease, stroke, lung infections, and others. The nicotine found in cigarettes and in smokeless tobacco is strong and an addictive drug. Once addicted, it becomes difficult to quit, but quitting is still possible. Smoking makes it harder for your body to fight infections...read more

Audience:

General, Health

What to Expect During a Dental Visit

On your first dental visit:

Arrive 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork. Have your insurance and photo ID available, as well as a current list of medications. A full health history will be reviewed. Answer all questions honestly and completely. Your safety and health depend on a trusting relationship with your provider. Expect a thorough exam of your head/neck, teeth, gums, surrounding tissue. A plan of care is usually developed and reviewed with you about what corrective treatment...read more

Audience:

General

Women's Oral Health

Hormonal changes occur throughout a woman’s life. During certain stages, she may have special oral health needs. Puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and birth control pills affect a woman’s mouth. But attention to good home care, regular dental visits, good eating habits, and limiting sugar-sweetened beverages will help to keep the mouth and teeth in the best condition for a lifetime.

Audience:

Adults, Women