Did you know that the level of oral hygiene you maintain is relative to your overall health? Were you aware that problems occurring in your mouth can affect your overall well-being? It is very important to understand the close connection between oral hygiene and overall health and what you can do to keep yourself happy and healthy.
What close connection is there between oral health and general health?
Just like any part of your anatomy, the mouth is teeming with microscopic life forms called bacteria, normally a harmless situation. With the proper amount of oral hygiene, regular flossing and brushing, and the assistance of the bodyís natural disease fighting defenses these microbes are easily kept under control.
However, when the oral hygiene deteriorates the bacteria population of the mouth can reach seriously hazardous levels and may even result in oral infections, tooth decay or gum disease.
Additionally, many of the common medications we take today such as antihistamines, painkillers, decongestants, and diuretics reduce the flow of saliva in the mouth. Saliva works to wash away leftover food and protects the enamel in your teeth by neutralizing acid released by bacteria; this is a great defense against the threat of microbial invasion which leads to disease.
What are the conditions that develop in an unhygienic mouth?
Lack of proper oral hygiene can contribute to, if not directly cause, various diseases and painful complications not just to your mouth but to your general well-being. Following is a list of some of the more common conditions caused by poor oral hygiene.
Endocarditis is an infection that attacks the endocardium, the lining of the heart’s interior chambers. This infection is usually the result of bacteria from another part of the body, an infected wound or bacteria-filled oral cavity, travelling through the blood stream and attaching itself to the heart wall especially in a damaged area.
There have been many clinical studies that directly link heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries to inflammation and diseases caused by prolonged exposures to oral bacteria.
Complications in Pregnancy and Childbirth
Periodontitis, a particularly nasty gum disease that can compromise the bone structure supporting the teeth and gums, has been the culprit behind many cases of low birth weight and premature deliveries.
Diabetics suffer from reduced immune efficiency which puts their teeth and gums in a vulnerable state, making them especially susceptible to oral disease. To complicate matters, studies prove that people with gum disease have a harder time balancing blood sugar levels.
The severe immune deficiency of HIV/AIDS sufferers makes them prone to oral conditions such as mucosal lesions.
The severe calcium deficiency that makes bones weak and brittle can also affect periodontal bone and tooth loss.
Eating disorders as well as other immune system disorders like Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes dry mouth, have also been linked to oral hygiene.
Because there are so many factors that contribute to or detract from the general health of your mouth it is very important that you inform your dentist of any medical conditions you have or medications you may be taking.
What can I do to protect my oral health?
To successfully safeguard your mouth and all it contains follow the checklist of healthy habits provided below
- Brush your teeth no less than twice daily, preferably after each meal
- Floss every day
- Maintain regular healthy eating habits; reduce between-meal snacking
- Replace your toothbrush whenever its bristles begin to look old and frayed
- Schedule a regular dental checkup
- Don’t underestimate the danger of oral disease; contact your dentist at the onset of any complications.