We all know that a good oral health routine can reduce the risk of oral problems, particularly for later in life when we are more likely to experience the effects of oral health problems. Your oral health is more important than you might realise, as it can offer clues about your overall health. Did you know that problems in your mouth could potentially affect the rest of your body? This is what makes it so important to protect your teeth and maintain good oral health.
What is the connection between teeth and the rest of the body?
Your mouth is filled with mostly harmless bacteria. Combining the body’s natural defences with daily brushing and flossing can help to keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, the bacteria can multiply to levels that might cause tooth decay and gum disease.
There are also certain medications that reduce the production of saliva. This is problematic as saliva is responsible for washing away food and neutralizing acids (which are produced by bacteria located inside your mouth) in order to protect you from overgrowth that might lead to disease.
What conditions can be linked to oral health?
Poor oral health may contribute to various diseases and conditions that include:
- Cardiovascular disease. Heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria
- This infection of the inner heart lining typically occurs when bacteria or other germs spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
- Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis (severe gum disease) has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight
There are also certain conditions that act in reverse and have an effect on your oral health including:
- Osteoporosis might be linked with periodontal bone and tooth loss
- Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection which puts the gums at risk. Gum disease is more frequent and severe in those who have diabetes.
It is imperative that you inform your dentist of any medications you are taking and if you have had any changes in your overall health because of these potential links.
What is plaque?
Plaque is a thin sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth.
Plaque can cause decay when you eat sugary and starchy foods which encourage the bacteria in plaque to produce acids and attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of plaque causes these bacteria to keep in contact with your teeth which eventually breaks down tooth enamel and forms a hole or cavity.
If you don’t remove plaque by brushing, it can also harden into tartar which forms near the gumline. The plaque beneath the tartar releases harmful poisons that cause the gums to become irritated and inflamed, eventually pulling away from the teeth, allowing the gaps to become infected. If the gum disease becomes severe enough, it is possible for teeth to become loose and even fall out.
How to take care of your oral health
There are a number of easy steps you can take to ensure that you have a good oral health routine.
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet with limited snacks
- Limit sugary foods
- Limit acidic drinks like soft drinks, cordials and fruit juices
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or when the bristles become frayed
- Visit the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
- Avoid or quit smoking if you can
- Avoid using your teeth for anything other than chewing food
How to brush your teeth
It sounds silly, but many people actually brush their teeth incorrectly. There are just a few minor adjustments you can make to ensure that you are brushing properly:
- Place the toothbrush head against your teeth and tilt the bristle tips for a 45-degree angle against your gumline. Move the brush in small circular motions, several times over all the surfaces of each individual tooth
- Repeat on the inside surfaces of your teeth
- Brush the biting surfaces of your teeth
- Brush your tongue to freshen your breath and remove bacteria
Along with maintaining a good daily oral health routine, it is important that you visit Crown Dental for regular check-ups where our professionals will be able to help identify and potentially prevent any decay or other dental issues.