Dental Caries: Causes, Determinants, and Communication – Essay Example

The paper "Dental Caries: Causes, Determinants, and Communication" is an outstanding example of an essay on health sciences and medicine. Although dental caries is perceived as a lifestyle disease that can be prevented through the adoption of simple oral hygiene practices, the disease still remains prevalent in developed nations and is becoming increasingly entrenched in the developing world due to dietary shifts (Mohamadkhah, Shokravi, Karimy, & Faghihzadeh, 2014). Dental caries remains the single most prevalent condition in most industrialized economies including the U.S., though rates in children have declined substantially over the last three decades (Bernabe & Sheiham, 2014). This paper not only identifies the causes and determinants of dental caries but also discusses an effective approach to communicate the information to elementary children with the view to reducing prevalence. Dental caries has been described in the literature as “an infectious microbiological disease of the teeth that results in localized dissolution and destruction of calcified tissues” (Shah, n.d., p. 275). The disease is caused by direct and indirect factors as well as distant factors that are associated with key determinants of health. Direct causes include (1) deficiency of fluorine and other trace elements such as lead, zinc, and iron in the teeth structure, (2) deep pits and fissures in the teeth that tend to trap food debris and bacteria, (3) misalignment of teeth including crowding and abnormal spacing, (4) dental plaque accumulation resulting from poor oral hygiene, (5) increased intake of refined carbohydrates and sugar-sweetened beverages, (6) reduced saliva secretion, and (7) increased saliva viscosity. Indirect factors associated with the occurrence of dental caries include poor contact between the teeth, loss of some teeth and failure to replace them, as well as gingival recession, abrasion and abfraction deficiencies commonly found at the neck of the tooth (Shah, n.d.). The determinants of oral caries (distant factors) include social economic status, literacy level, geographical location, age, gender, dietary habits, climatic conditions and soil type, social and cultural practices, access to healthcare facilities, and health insurance (Shah, n.d.). Available literature demonstrates that “the range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health status are known as determinants of health” (Determinants of Health, 2016, para. 3). Drawing from this description, it can be argued that low social economic level and low literacy status are the foremost social determinants of dental caries. Age and gender are important biological and genetic determinants of dental caries, as the disease affects more females than males and is more common in childhood and adolescence than in adulthood (Burt & Eklund, 2005). An important behavioral/dietary determinant of dental caries is that meat eaters and cigarette smokers are known to develop the disease more often than vegetarians and non-smokers. Health-related determinants of dental caries include the inability to access oral health services and lack of oral health insurance, while environmental determinants include urbanization, high temperature, and low fluorine content in water. Lastly, cultural determinants include tobacco intake, poor oral health habits, and unwillingness to visit dental clinics due to cultural barriers (Culyer, Brown, & Kelly, 2014). Owing to the fact that the risk of development of oral caries is strongly associated with dietary and lifestyle habits, it is important to adopt a reinforcing communication strategy to ensure the internalization of health-promoting lifestyles such as minimal sugar consumption, regular brushing, daily use of dental floss, as well as routine visits to dental clinics to prevent and detect oral diseases at an early stage (Mohamadkhah et al., 2014). Routine lectures can be used to communicate this information to elementary-level students as such children are receptive to accepting and sustaining positive health behaviors. Routine lectures on oral health are effective due to the ease of applicability, ease of accessibility, and capacity to ensure information acquisition with the view to triggering behavior change (Bernabe & Sheiham, 2014). This paper has identified the causes and determinants of dental caries in a population of elementary students. From the discussion, it is clear that routine lectures can be used to communicate information on dental caries to the population with the view to reducing prevalence.



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