What are biological factors of oral health?

The importance of teaching healthy behaviors

Understanding a patient's lifestyle choices as well as their gender and gender identity* is critical to assessing their dental health needs. When meeting a patient for the first time, it is important to ask them their name and how they prefer to be addressed.

Be sure to leave a note on their chart to remind yourself if the name differs from the one on the chart. This is also helpful because some people don't like to be called ma'am or sir. Using generic terms such as “Nice to see you again, how are you?” is the best way to not offend someone.

As with all patients, hygiene and lifestyle behaviors play an important role in oral health. For example, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other forms of tobacco can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral health problems such as cancer. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that rates of untreated cavities are higher among smokers, with more than 40% of adults ages 20 to 64 who currently smoke suffering from untreated cavities. Men tend to exhibit more risky behaviors than women, with habits such as smoking and marijuana use, which increase their risk of cavities and tooth loss.

Chronic diseases and comorbidities also play an important role in oral health. Poor oral health is linked to chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Although tooth decay is largely preventable, they are also one of the most common chronic diseases that people develop throughout their lives.

Hygienists should encourage regular checkups and proper hygiene because people who visit the dentist less often and get routine care develop more cavities. Still, understanding biological factors can help you take better care of your patients' teeth and gums.

*Sex refers to biological factors related to genetics, physiology, and anatomy, while gender is related to social roles, behaviors, attitudes, and identities.

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