Oral hygiene is actually considered preventative care, just like annual physicals and routine blood work. If you take good care of your teeth and gums, you can stop dental health problems like cavities, gum disease, and even bad breath. Not to mention it helps stop other health issues as well. Oral health is also related to your entire body’s health. For example, if you have an infection in your mouth, the bacteria can actually travel through your bloodstream to other parts of your body. This bacteria can lead to heart disease and strokes. So, taking care of your mouth is an important part of staying healthy in general. Below we’ll look closer at how healthy mouths mean healthy bodies, as well as tips on how to take care of your teeth between dentist visits.
Reduce Risk Of Disease
When we talk about our overall health, we don’t usually think about our teeth and gums. But we really should! Taking care of your mouth can make you less likely to get sick. Research shows that gingivitis or periodontitis (forms of gum disease) can lead to a number of health problems.
Healthy gums are one way to lower your risk of heart disease. Periodontal disease is a direct cause of inflammation in your arteries. When the bacteria from your mouth gets into your bloodstream, it causes the arteries to harden. In turn, this increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. Bad oral health is also linked to high blood pressure and dense LDL cholesterol, which raises the risk of heart disease even more.
Bad oral hygiene will inevitably lead to inflamed gums. When oral bacteria travels to the brain, it can actually kill your brain cells! This leads to memory loss. It’s currently estimated that around 40 million people are currently living with Alzheimer’s or dementia worldwide. A pathogenic oral bacteria called spirochetes has been studied as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease. This is because significantly more spirochetes bacteria are found in Alzheimer’s patient’s brains than those without Alzheimer’s.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 37.3 million Americans currently have diabetes, with many more unaware that they even have it. Periodontal diseases can increase the risk of developing or worsening diabetes. This is because periodontal disease makes it difficult for your body to regulate your blood sugar. Just like periodontal disease can cause or worsen diabetes, diabetes can also cause periodontal disease. If you have diabetes it can increase your risk of dental problems that can then offset other health problems. This is because Diabetes increases the risk of infection. In fact 95% of diabetic adults also suffer from periodontal disease.
Researchers have discovered a direct link between gum disease in pregnant women and low birth weight and preterm labors. Premature or low weight infants are susceptible to brain injuries, as well as vision and eyesight problems. Just like with diabetes not only can gum disease cause issues with your pregnancy, your pregnancy can cause issues with your teeth and gums. So it’s important to take close care of your teeth if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. These issues include:
- Gingivitis – This is more likely to happen during your second trimester. Symptoms include gum swelling and bleeding, specifically when brushing and flossing your teeth.
- Periodontal disease – This is an infection of the structures that support your teeth (gums, ligament, and bones). It happens as a result of untreated gingivitis and can lead to losing your teeth.
- Pregnancy Epulis – This is a red, round growth around your gums that can easily begin to bleed.
- Tooth Decay – Your pregnancy hormones relax the ring that holds your food inside your stomach. If you suffer from gastric reflux or vomiting from morning sickness, your stomach acids can coat your teeth. Repeated vomiting and reflux can damage your tooth enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Teeth grinding is one of the first signs of obstructive sleep apnea. Grinding your teeth can lead to tooth decay and inflamed gums, increasing your risk of infection. Sleep apnea is also directly linked with hypertension, heart disease, and headaches.
When oral bacteria is inhaled into your lungs or absorbed in your bloodstream it can cause some serious respiratory problems. Bacteria can cause respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, COPD, and lung disease once it’s in your lungs.
Cancer is another issue related to oral health. Researchers have discovered that periodontitis can contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer. The bacteria that cause periodontitis can be dangerous, as they damage the tissue surrounding the teeth. Adults with poor oral health were more likely to contract an oral virus that can cause human papillomavirus (HPV), which can also cause cancer. Periodontal disease can also cause lung and blood cancer.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, as we know poor oral hygiene can lead to periodontal disease which causes inflammation in the mouth that eventually spreads to the rest of the body. John Hopkins investigated the link between poor oral health and rheumatoid arthritis. The inflammatory response of joints in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients is comparable to the inflammatory response of a patient’s mouth with Periodontal disease.
If periodontal disease gets bad enough, the inflammation and infection can cause a loss of bone tissue. Studies reveal that periodontal disease affects all of the body’s bones, not just the jawbone and teeth. Both osteoporosis and periodontal disease are associated with estrogen deficiency, low mineral bone density, and low vitamin D levels according to the research.
Poor oral health can even affect your sex life! Periodontal disease creates infection-prone pockets in your mouth. With the presence of bacteria and infection in your bloodstream, your blood vessels can become inflamed and block blood flow to your genitals. In fact, men with periodontal disease are three times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than men with healthy mouths.
Signs of Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene manifests itself in a variety of ways. Including bleeding, swollen gums, toothaches, and abnormal growths. Here are some of the most common indicators that you aren’t brushing or flossing properly.
If you have tooth pain, the last thing you want to do is ignore it. Even if you immediately start brushing and flossing more, it’s likely that the pain will continue. Tooth pain is frequently the result of serious tooth decay. Once the decay reaches the tooth the only way to stop it is with a dentist’s help. Tooth pain can also be a sign of:
- Chipped, broken, or fractured tooth
- Ill fitting crowns
All of which can begin to cause other dental and overall health problems.
Bleeding, swelling, and color changes in your gums are all indications of poor oral hygiene. There may be an underlying problem with your gum health. If you’re in the beginning stages of gum disease, only a dentist can find out for sure. Treating your gums will prevent the disease from spreading to the point that your gums recede and your teeth begin to fall out.
Changes In Your Tongue
Changes in the texture or color of the tongue indicate either poor oral hygiene or deteriorating oral health. Every single night, you must thoroughly brush your tongue. If you dread cleaning your tongue due to the gag reflex, use a tongue scraper instead. If you notice changes in your tongue after your nightly brushings, consult your dentist.
Some patients experience oral growths along their gums. Others don’t notice them until a dentist points them out. Finding and treating abnormal growths is very important. These growths can easily lead to oral cancer.
Nobody enjoys bad breath. While you can try to use gum or mints to mask it, taking care of your teeth is the best way to prevent it. When you don’t brush or floss properly food particles can get stuck in your mouth and create the odor. Even when not eating, a sticky film of bacteria called plaque will begin to form on your teeth which will also cause bad breath. This plaque will irritate your gums and ultimately lead to tooth decay.
Improving Your Dental Health
After all of that, you’re sure to want to start taking better care of your mouth and you can start immediately.
- Brush your teeth 2x a day – Brush with fluoride toothpaste and a soft bristled toothbrush. This helps remove plaque and bacteria from your gum line. Make sure to brush every surface of your teeth including the backs and sides.
- Floss 1x a day – Brushing alone won’t reach all of the spaces between your teeth. To get to those areas you’ll want to take about an 18 inch piece of floss, wrap it around your middle fingers and use your thumb and forefingers to slide the floss between each tooth.
- Brush your tongue – Your tongue essentially acts like a sponge for bacteria. When you brush your teeth you’ll want to brush your tongue as well. Using either a toothbrush or tongue scraper.
- Use mouthwash daily – Antibacterial mouthwash will stop harmful bacteria from growing. It also helps get rid of food and plaque that is stuck to your teeth.
- Quit smoking – Tobacco use is the leading cause of periodontal disease and oral cancer. These products are best avoided altogether. If you currently smoke and wish to quit, consult your healthcare provider about available treatment options.
- Visit your dentist regularly – Exams and cleanings of the teeth on a regular basis are essential for good oral health. Many patients benefit from six-month visits. However, if you are prone to cavities, gum disease, or other oral health issues, you may need to visit your dentist more frequently.
Working With EZ
Dental insurance may not always appear to be necessary. However, it is, because dental health can impact overall health. Gum disease, if left untreated, can lead to heart problems, strokes, and respiratory issues. Having dental insurance will allow you to maintain a healthy mouth and body without worrying about costly medical bills. To begin searching for dental insurance, please enter your zip code below or call one of our licensed agents at 877-670-3557.