Improving Overall Health with Good Oral Hygiene

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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

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.

Cardiovascular Disease

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.

Diabetes

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.

HIV/AIDS

The severe immune deficiency of HIV/AIDS sufferers makes them prone to oral conditions such as mucosal lesions.

Osteoporosis

The severe calcium deficiency that makes bones weak and brittle can also affect periodontal bone and tooth loss.

Other Conditions

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.

How To Keep Your Teeth And Mouth Healthy

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Taking good care of your teeth and mouth over the course of your life can help to prevent you having problems as you age. Taking good care of your teeth involves brushing and flossing them each day and visiting your dentist on a regular basis.

Children And Infants

At birth, an infant’s initial set of teeth is nearly completely formed already. These teeth at first are hidden underneath the gums. Those teeth are important since once they grow in, they allow your baby to speak well and chew food. Also, the first set of a baby’s teeth holds space where eventually the permanent teeth will be. They also help with growing permanent teeth in straight.

Follow these recommendations to care for your infant’s teeth:

Every day, make sure to clean your baby’s new teeth. When these teeth initially come in, rub them gently using a wet, clean washcloth. Use a children’s toothbrush once the teeth get bigger.

Children who are younger than 2 years old should not use toothpaste. Your child’s teeth should be brushed with water instead.

Don’t give your baby a bottle to sleep with. It can leave juice or milk sitting on his teeth. This can cause cavities or baby bottle tooth decay.

Older children should eat low-sugar snacks, like vegetables, cheese, and fruit. Don’t give your kids chewy, sticky candy.

Make sure your children know how important it is for them to keep their teeth clean and teach them how to brush their teeth properly.

Take your kids to the dentist on a regular basis. According to the American Dental Association children should start seeing a dentist when they are one year old.

Teenagers

If teens take good care of their teeth and mouth it will help them have fewer cavities, a nice smile, and good breath. The following are simple things that can be done:

Brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste at least two times a day.

Floss your teeth once a day at minimum.

Don’t chew or smoke tobacco. It can cause cancer, bad breath or stain your teeth.

When playing contact sports, wear the correct protective headgear.

Visit your dentist twice a year, or every six months, to have regular cleanings and check-ups done.
Adults

Maintaining good tooth and mouth care when you are an adult can help with preventing painful gums, losing teeth and other issues. The following are helpful things that can be done:

Brush your teeth using a fluoride toothpaste two times a day at least.

Floss your teeth once a day at least.

Don’t chew or smoke tobacco.

Consult with your doctor to make sure that the medicines you are taking don’t have any side effects that can damage your teeth (some medicines, for example, can cause dry mouth.)

Check the inside of your mouth on a regular basis for irritated gums, sores that are healing and other problems.

Visit your dentist once every 6 months to have cleanings and check-ups done.

See your dentist or doctor right away if you have any issue with your mouth or teeth.


Healthy Teeth And Your Child’s Diet

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In addition to the regular brushing of teeth, the foods your child is eating are a very important factor in the health of his teeth and mouth. In almost all cases, the big villain is sugar. The frequency and duration of time that his teeth have sugar on them, the higher the risk that he will develop cavities. Particularly bad are the ìsticky sugarî kinds of food including dried fruit, gum, toffee and sticky caramel. It is particularly harmful when it covers the teeth with sugar for several hours. In fact, serious problems can result.

Always be sure to brush a childís teeth immediately after he finishes eating a food with sugar. Also, do not give a young child any liquid that contains sugar in his sippy cup for a period of time.

Cutting Down on Sweets

Most people love sweets and children are certainly no exceptions. Like any other human being, she loved sugar from the moment she was born and she already has the sensitivity to different levels of sweetness. So give her the choice of a baked potato and a yam and she will choose the yam. If the choice is between a cookie and a yam, she will choose the cookie.

Of course, you did not make her want the ice cream and candy when your preference is that she should eat a healthy slice of cheese. But you do have a responsibility to control a number of sweets she consumes and to give her a diet that is mainly made up of foods that are nutritious and will help her grow, not make her teeth decay.

Watching advertising on television can seriously impede any childís nutrition. There are studies showing that if a child is watching more than twenty-two hours of television a week (more than 3 hours a day) he will be more likely to be obese. That is because children want what they see and they love the ads for sweets and sugary cereals. This is often a problem when they go to a friendís home and these treats are plentiful. But obesity in children is a serious problem in the United States. That is why you have to monitor your childís eating, both away and at home, to ensure that her nutrition is healthy.

To counter influences from outside, try to keep your home very healthy. Have low-sugar, low-fat and low-sodium products in your home. After a while, he will be used to the healthy foods and he will not be as likely to succumb to the temptation of salty, sugary and greasy foods.