When it comes to preventing cavities, you probably know from your family dentist that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day or even after every meal if possible. This is especially important for patients with orthodontic appliances that can trap bacteria. But any patient can benefit from mouthwash. Mouthwash can kill harmful…
Understanding How Oral Hygiene Affects Overall Health
Almost everyone knows that good oral hygiene is important for preventing oral issues like gum disease and cavities. However, you might be surprised to learn that oral health problems also affect overall health. Studies have linked poor oral health to health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Besides preventing bad breath and tooth pain, improving your oral hygiene habits can also reduce certain health risks and improve your quality of life.
Oral health and health complications
Gum disease and tooth decay are the most prevalent oral health conditions and are typically caused by poor oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene allows the bacteria to multiply in the mouth, and they feast on the sugar in food to produce acid. These oral issues start when acidic plaque (bacteria film) accumulates on the teeth and gum surfaces, causing enamel erosion and gum irritation. If neglected, an infection may set in eventually.
The oral cavity is the pathway to the body, which means that any infection in the mouth can easily find its way to other parts of the body via the bloodstream, digestive tract, and respiratory system. This is the effect of oral health on general wellbeing. When there is an issue in the mouth, there is an increased risk that it will also affect the body. Researchers have linked poor oral health to increased risk of health conditions like:
- Cardiovascular disease (associated with gum disease and tooth loss)
- Dementia (complete tooth loss)
- Diabetes (gum disease and tooth loss)
- Obesity (linked with advanced gum disease)
- Oral cancer (gum disease and use of alcohol-based mouthwash
- Respiratory disease (missing teeth and eating difficulties)
- Stroke (gum disease)
Oral hygiene and general wellbeing
Besides the effect of poor oral hygiene on physical health, it can also affect a person’s confidence, especially if their teeth look less appealing due to tartar accumulation. This may affect how the person interacts in social settings.
Fortunately, oral health issues are preventable and require treating the teeth, gums, and the oral cavity better. Consuming a diet with high-sugar content can put someone at risk of developing oral health issues because the bacteria in plaque feast on sugar. Tobacco use and excessive alcohol intake also increase the risk of oral health and general health conditions.
Improving oral health
Knowing the effects of poor hygiene on general wellbeing can motivate people to care more for their oral cavity. The changes can start through improvements to one’s daily oral hygiene routine. Dental professionals typically recommend brushing the teeth at least twice daily for about two minutes. Flossing helps clean the areas between the teeth that are inaccessible when brushing.
It is better to reduce sugary and acidic foods and drinks to reduce plaque formation. It's important to quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption. Even more important are visits to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, as the dentist can monitor the oral cavity and catch oral conditions before they affect overall health.
Oral hygiene is important for oral health and general wellbeing. If you have additional questions or need a dental checkup, contact the dental office to book an appointment.
Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Oral Hygiene Basics in Franklin, TN.
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