Most of us know that the practice of proper dental hygiene can prevent tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath. However, did you know that bad oral hygiene may increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and even preterm labour? If you are pregnant, read our article, Dental care during pregnancy, for more insight.
Yes, what’s in your mouth can give a dentist a peek into your overall health, and that’s why it’s so important to practice good dental hygiene.
The connection between oral health and overall health
Your mouth is continually teeming with bacteria; most are harmless, but without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that can cause infections. Treatment for infections may reduce the flow of saliva, which is needed to neutralise acids formed by bacteria. These are three infections seen by dentists.
- Periodontal disease
- Trench mouth
According to the Mayo Clinic, ‘Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) might play a role in some diseases. And certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.’
Essentially, this means that due to a compromised immune system, your body may have trouble fighting infections.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you to brush and floss your teeth daily, a study conducted at New York University (NYU), found that poor dental hygiene may also be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Angela Kamer comments, “The research suggests that cognitively normal subjects with periodontal inflammation are at an increased risk of lower cognitive function compared to cognitively normal subjects with little or no periodontal inflammation,”
Other serious health conditions that may be caused by poor oral health include
- Premature births
- Cardiovascular disease
- Coronary artery disease
Good dental hygiene habits
By not brushing and flossing your teeth, you’re leaving your oral and overall health susceptible to numerous problems. So, please make sure that you:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Use dental floss to clean between your teeth daily.
- There are antiseptic, or fluoride mouth rinses available which can be used to add a second layer of protection against tooth decay.
- Visit your dentist twice a year for a check-up.
- Reduce your amount of sugar intake. This means staying away from sugar-rich items such as carbonated soft drinks and sticky candy and gummy sweets.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months (or sooner) if bristles are splayed or worn.
- Don’t smoke
The bottom line is that severe health complications can be linked to poor dental hygiene habits. So, make sure you look after your mouth.