Having good dental hygiene can help you be confident about flashing your pearly whites and speaking to someone up close. Also, having a complete set of teeth will let you chew your food easier. But are you aware that your oral health can affect your overall wellness? Oral health contributes to your physical well-being so it’s important to understand how one affects the other and what you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Digestion Starts in the Mouth
The digestive process begins in the mouth. It is the entry point to the digestive tract and is home to numerous bacteria. Most of the bacteria are good and prevent the growth of harmful microbes that are usually found in the food you eat. To avoid having oral infections like gum disease and tooth decay, you need to have proper oral hygiene. With healthy dental practices, you can prevent bacteria from reaching the digestive tract and the possibility of developing certain diseases.
Oral Health Can Contribute to Certain Conditions
The food you consume can have bad bacteria but your body’s natural defenses can keep them under control. However, poor oral health can compromise those defenses and the resulting infections may have an impact on the other organs in your body like your lungs and heart. Here are some conditions that are connected to your oral health.
- Endocarditis – This condition is when an infection is found in the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves called the endocardium. The infection is caused by bacteria, which are usually from another part of the body like your mouth and enter the bloodstream. When the blood returns to the heart, the bacteria can then attach themselves to the heart lining, causing an infection.
- Cardiovascular disease – Periodontal disease is a condition caused by tooth damage, gum infection, and gum inflammation. It has been linked to certain heart diseases like stroke and clogged arteries. Although this theory needs further research, the American Heart Association reports that some cardiologists see the potential connection because gum diseases are one of the conditions wherein the body experiences continuous inflammation, which can lead to developing cardiovascular disease.
- Pneumonia – As another entryway for air, bacteria in your mouth can also get into your lungs. This can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses.
- Birth complications – Periodontitis or a serious gum infection has been found to be a risk factor in premature birth and low birth weight. According to a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the bacteria that causes the inflammation spreads to the bloodstream and can stimulate the production of inflammatory mediators responsible for early-onset labor.
Some Conditions Have Effects on Your Dental Health
Certain medical conditions can also affect your dental health, especially those that can impact your bone health and resistance to infections including:
- Osteoporosis – This bone disease can also cause periodontal tooth loss. Also, some medications used to treat osteoporosis have a small risk of damaging the bones of the jaw.
- Diabetes – People with diabetes are at risk of developing gum diseases because their high sugar level reduces their body’s resistance to infection. With good dental hygiene, periodontitis can be treated.
- HIV/AIDS – Dental problems such as painful mucosal lesions are common in people who have HIV and AIDS due to the virus weakening the immune system.
- Substance abuse – Abusing certain drugs can increase craving for sugary treats and drinks, which can cause tooth decay. Ecstasy and cocaine use can also lead to tooth grinding—resulting in cracked teeth. On the other hand, the acid in alcoholic drinks can break down the enamel on your teeth. Although good oral hygiene can improve your dental health, the best long-term solution is to seek immediate professional help. While recovering, many treatment facilities like a drug rehab Phoenix residents go to educate their patients about eating a well-balanced diet to support a healthier lifestyle and promote good oral health.
- Alzheimer’s disease – As Alzheimer’s disease progress, patients often forget about brushing their teeth or flossing. This can cause them to experience cavities, bad breath, and gum infections.
Easy Ways to Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Given that your oral hygiene can impact how the rest of your body functions, it’s best to cultivate good dental habits.
- Brush your teeth two times a day using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to use gentle, circular motions when brushing your teeth to remove plaque. Also, remember to clean your teeth before going to bed to remove germs that have accumulated during the day.
- Clean your tongue because plaque can build up there, too.
- Use dental floss daily to remove little pieces of food stuck in between your teeth. Flossing can also help stimulate gums, lower inflammation, and reduce plaque buildup.
- After you brush your teeth and floss, make sure to gargle mouthwash to get rid of any food residue. It also reduces the acid in your mouth and cleans areas that you may have been unable to reach with brushing or flossing.
- Drink water after every meal to help wash out sticky and acidic foods and beverages.
- Avoid or limit your consumption of food and drinks that are high in sugar like pastries, sodas, and desserts to avoid cavities.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months, or as soon as the bristles become worn.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for dental checkups and cleanings. Remember to inform your dentist about your medications and changes in your health. The information can help them spot potential dental issues and offer better treatments.
Maintaining good oral hygiene doesn’t just protect your teeth, it also plays a vital role in your overall wellness. If you are shifting to a healthier lifestyle, make sure to include proper dental care on the list. By taking care of your teeth, gums, and mouth, you can avoid developing certain conditions and ensure you have a beautiful smile.