Everyone knows the importance of healthy gums, but did you know that oral hygiene impacts much more than just your mouth? In fact, not only can your oral health indicate the condition of your overall health, but it can also directly affect the rest of your body. In order to be the healthiest version of you possible, you can’t neglect your oral hygiene. Read on to discover more.
The Connection Between Oral Hygiene and Overall Health
It’s no secret that our mouths are filled with bacteria, most of which are harmless if proper dental hygiene care is practised. Despite this, our mouths are a key entry point to our respiratory tracts and the sole entry to our digestive tracts. As a result, the mouth provides bacteria with a pathway to our bodies, which can result in disease.
When we brush and floss daily, as we should, our bodies are usually able to employ their natural defences to keep bacteria under control. In contrast, a lack of oral hygiene can lead to a build-up of bacteria that may result in mouth infections like gum disease and tooth decay.
It’s not just about oral hygiene, though. In fact, specific medications, including antidepressants, diuretics, painkillers, antihistamines, and decongestants, can reduce saliva flow. Our bodies need saliva to neutralise acid caused by bacteria and wash away the food we eat, which helps protect us from microbes that can reproduce and cause disease.
Conditions Linked to Oral Hygiene
If you practice improper oral hygiene, this could contribute to multiple conditions and diseases, including:
Pneumonia can be a result of improper oral hygiene, as some bacteria in your mouth can be drawn into your lungs, resulting in respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.
Pregnancy and Birth Complications
The most severe form of gum disease, otherwise known as periodontitis, can be linked to low birth weight and premature birth.
While there’s still more research to be done regarding the connection between the two, there’s a possibility that clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke could be linked to infections and inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
Endocarditis refers to an infection of the inner lining of the heart valves or chambers. Most commonly, this occurs when germs or bacteria from another section of the body travel through the bloodstream and attach themselves to certain areas of the heart. As previously mentioned, the mouth is the perfect gateway for this harmful bacteria.
How to Practice Oral Hygiene
We’ve been taught to brush our teeth for two minutes in the morning and two minutes in the evening ever since our teeth started poking through, but does oral hygiene go beyond that? In order to practice good oral hygiene, you should:
Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time, using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush.
- Floss daily.
- Know when to use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing. The best time to use mouthwash is right after you eat.
- Eat a healthy diet and reduce your intake of sugary drinks and food.
- Replace your toothbrush every three or four months or when the bristles are worn down.
- Attend the dentist regularly and get your teeth professionally cleaned on a bi-yearly basis.
- Avoid tobacco use.
- Contact your dentist as soon as oral health issues arise.
Maintain Your Oral Hygiene with Sutton Dental & Implant Clinic
At Sutton Dental & Implant Clinic, we feel that prevention is more effective than cure, which is where proper dental hygiene comes in. Should you identify any changes in your oral health, be sure to get in touch as soon as possible. The sooner we can assess and detect problems will reduce your need for treatment as we can provide advice and guidance on how to care for your teeth. We look forward to hearing from you soon.