The Far-Reaching Impact of Poor Dental Hygiene on Your Health
Don’t allow your busy schedule to prevent you from taking proper care of your teeth! About half of Americans do not floss daily, and one in five do not brush twice a day. Taking care of your teeth and gums is not just about preventing cavities or bad breath, the mouth is a gateway into your entire body. The bacteria that originate in the mouth can cause health problems that you may not be aware of and can affect your overall health in more ways than you can imagine. You don’t want to be a victim to the consequences of poor dental hygiene. Brush and floss as often as you can to avoid the following:
Cavities are areas in the enamel of your teeth that are permanently damaged by bacteria. Over time, they develop into tiny openings or holes in the tooth. If left untreated, cavities get larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth. Regular dental checkups and adequate oral hygiene are the best protection against cavities.
Gum disease (periodontal disease) & Tooth loss
Gum disease is generally divided into two types – gingivitis and periodontitis. Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. The statistics show that in the US adults from 20 to 64 have lost seven (permanent) teeth, and 10% of Americans between 50 and 64 have absolutely no teeth left.
Tooth erosion is the gradual erosion of tooth enamel caused by the acid on the teeth. It affects the entire surface of the tooth.
Bad breath (halitosis) is often caused by a buildup of bacteria due to poor oral hygiene. If you suspect you have bad breath, you should see your dentist.
Dental plaque forms on the surface of teeth when bacteria combine with food and saliva. It can be treated and removed by good oral hygiene and by making regular visits to the dentist.
Tartar (calculus) is hardened calcified plaque that sticks firmly to teeth. Tartar can only be removed with special instruments by a dentist.
In addition to the benefits to your teeth, adequate oral hygiene may have even further benefits. Poor oral hygiene is associated with an increased risk of developing diseases such as:
Cardiovascular disease and risk of heart attack
Research has shown that people with poor oral hygiene havean increased risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. Mild inflammation and infection in the mouth from gum disease can enter the bloodstream to trigger mild inflammation in the blood vessels. This, over time, can lead to cardiovascular diseases.
Bacteria from periodontal disease can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs where they can aggravate respiratory systems, especially in patients who already have respiratory problems.
When you have bacteria in your mouth, you inhale them right into your lungs, where they can cause lung problems. A study has shown that people with periodontitis were almost three times as likely to have pneumonia.
95% of US adults with diabetes also have periodontal disease and 1/3 have such advanced disease that has lead to tooth loss. The link between gum disease and diabetes is a two-way street. Due to diabetes, the risk of gum disease is higher, and periodontal disease may also make it more difficult to control blood sugar, putting the patient at risk for even more diabetic complications.
In between regular visits to the dentist, here are a few simple steps you should take in order to decrease the risk of developing dental problems:
- Brush thoroughly twice a day – Adults should use a toothbrush with a small- to medium-sized head with soft to medium bristles and children a small-headed toothbrush with soft nylon bristles, suitable for their age. There are various toothpastes designed for different needs. Your dentist can recommend the most suitable toothpaste for your needs.
- Master the brushing technique – The toothbrush bristles should aim towards the area where your tooth meets your gum. Brush gently, with short back-and-forth motions. You should also brush your tongue.
- Floss daily – Floss gently, using a rubbing motion. Do not snap the floss into your gums.
- Rinse with a mouthwash (Mouthwashes help to freshen your breath and wash away particles of food.)
- Use dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste (Fluoride helps protect your teeth from the acid after eating.)
- Eat foods that prevent tooth decay (Calcium, fruit, fiber, vegetables, whole grains)
Regular teeth hygiene and dental checkups help to keep yourteeth and gums healthy, as well to improve your entire body’s health condition. Visit your dentist every six months and take over the initiative for your health and your future.