We’re always told from a young age to brush our teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes, but have you ever understood why it is so important to do this? Various studies and research has suggested that oral health can also impact various other parts of your body and how it functions. So as well as avoiding things like tooth decay, tooth stains, and fresh breath, keeping your teeth and mouth healthy can have more benefits than you might think.
But First, How Can You Keep Your Teeth Healthy Exactly?
Brushing your teeth is one of the best ways you can look after your oral health. It helps remove food and plaque which can produce acids that erode tooth enamel and other negative effects, which we’ll get into in a moment. Going to a dentist for regular check-ups will help prevent any problems from getting worse as well. Dentistry experts with mcconnelldental.com.au also place an emphasis on looking after teeth from a young age. So if you have children, consider their oral health, even before they have teeth, by cleaning their gums each day to ready the area for when their first teeth arrive.
But it’s not just brushing your teeth that keeps your mouth healthy. You should also consider the following:
- Drinking water frequently
- Using mouthwash
- Limiting sugary foods
- Avoid snacking
The Diseases That Can Affect Your Overall Health
Poor oral hygiene can lead to swollen and quick-to-bleed gums, known as gum disease, or gingivitis. This is a mild form of the disease that can easily develop into periodontitis, if not treated, which destroy tissue that supports your teeth, causing them to fall out. Tooth loss is not that rare, but it can be easily prevented by looking after your teeth properly. If not, gum disease and tooth loss can have wider implications on your health, not just the poor aesthetic.
Although a lot of research is inconclusive, there has been evidence that people that have oral health issues are more likely to have other problems in their bodies. There is a cause-and-effect argument in a lot of these cases, but studies have shown that there is a relationship between the following bodily health issues and oral health issues.
Studies have shown that diabetes could cause an increased risk of gum disease because the body’s efficiency and preventing infection is reduced. However, some research suggests that it is a two-way street because some cases found that working to control periodontitis helped to manage the symptoms of diabetes.
The mouth is one of the main ways that bacteria enter the body; in fact, over 700 species of bacteria can exist in the mouth. If this is allowed to build up to extreme levels, it is likely that more bacteria can then enter the bloodstream and travel all around the body, affecting several different bodily functions. One such example is when bacteria can attach to the plaque on arteries in the heart which can cause blockages that lead to heart attacks.
Other reasoning behind this relationship is a more indirect one. If your gums are inflamed and sore, you can’t chew food as well as you should be able to. This may cause you to avoid certain foods and eat others that aren’t as good for you, which could lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
Although evidence on this is extremely limited, it has been suggested some cancer could be caused by bacteria found in gum disease may inhibit the body’s ability to recognise and destroy cancer cells. Oral cancer has been shown to be much higher in people who smoke tobacco and other substances; this form of neglect of oral hygiene is very likely to have severe and perhaps fatal consequences – so it’s best to try and quit smoking.
As with heart disease, bacteria that enter the bloodstream from the mouth can also enter your lungs, not just the heart. This is thought to often happen at night when fluids in the mouth can trickle down the throat, which is why it’s so important to brush your teeth before you go to bed. Pneumonia can be caused by these bacteria because they cause infection in air sacs in the lung which can lead to chest pain, coughing, fatigue, and nausea.
To summarize, poor oral hygiene can cause gum disease which has been shown to correlate to other health risks such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and pneumonia. Looking after your teeth can help you prevent these risks because food, plaque and bacteria are flushed from the mouth.