October is National Dental Hygiene Month in the United States – an event designed to promote understanding of the importance of good oral health and to educate people on the steps that they can take to improve their own oral hygiene.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, the mouth is certainly the window to overall health and wellness. Many people are surprised to discover that their oral health plays a much bigger role in their wellbeing than they realize. However, the mouth is quite literally the gateway to our body. Anything present in the mouth can pass into the body, from food and drink that we intend to consume, to a surplus of harmful bacteria that may be present in the mouths of people with poor oral hygiene. This can lead to decay and a problem known as gum disease - both conditions that will get progressively worse unless action is taken to reverse them.
All mouths contain bacteria, some of which are good, and some of which can potentially be harmful. When someone doesn’t have a robust oral hygiene routine, the bad bacteria can multiply and reach levels that lead to infection and, as a result, a heap of different dental problems. This includes bleeding gums, gum recession, deterioration of the supporting structures of the teeth, and tooth loss. This is an advanced gum disease. However, gum disease isn’t the only problem that patients with poor oral health face. Studies have found that patients with advanced gum disease are more likely to experience chronic health problems like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and even some cancers, and this is believed to be a result of bacteria passing into and around the body to the major organs, causing harm.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure that your oral health is as good as possible.
Brushing our teeth is the best way to keep our mouths healthy and reduce the risk of experiencing complications with our oral health. This is because brushing removes much of the bad bacteria by slowing the formation of plaque on the teeth. Plaque, a clear, sticky coating that covers our teeth, forms as a result of the bacteria present in the mouth interacting with sugars in what we drink or eat. It contains countless bacteria that are responsible for decay and gum disease. Brushing twice each day, for at least two minutes, and using fluoride toothpaste should be a priority to maintain great oral health.
Did you know that as many as few as 10% of U.S. adults floss every day? Yet flossing is a crucial part of our oral hygiene routine since it is the only at-home method of removing food particles and bacteria from areas of the mouth that toothbrush bristles can’t reach – such as between the teeth. You don’t have to stick to traditional floss either. If it seems too tricky, consider investing in a water flosser or interdental brushes as an alternative.
Water is the healthiest thing that you can drink. Dentists advise that you drink water with every meal. Not only does this ensure you are appropriately hydrated but drinking also helps to flush away any bacteria that might still be clinging to your teeth and mouth. Stick to at least 8 glasses a day, and always with and after a meal to give your oral health a boost.
Not everyone enjoys chewing gum, but if you don’t mind it, it can be beneficial for your oral health. The chewing actions stimulate our body to produce greater amounts of saliva than usual, and this works in the same way as drinking water; flushing bacteria away.
At-home care is crucial for maintaining your oral health, but your dentist offers invaluable support too. Only your dentist has the training and experience necessary to identify and treat any emerging issues, plus they have the professional equipment needed to perform a safe and thorough cleaning of your teeth that is beyond anything you can achieve at home.
If you have any questions about the elements of good oral health, or to schedule an appointment, please get in touch.