What About Oral Health and Overall Health?

December 11, 2020 4 min read

couple, oral health, oral hygiene, brushing teeth

Neglecting your oral hygiene contributes greatly to the development of cavities and tooth decay. If left untreated, this can, of course, lead to tooth loss and gum disease in the future, but did you know that it could also make you more susceptible to other diseases?

Although "oral hygiene" generally relates to the state of your mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, and salivary glands, the damage does not stop there. It can also have a significant impact on your overall health. This is why there's a lot of emphasis on maintaining good oral hygiene.

In this article, we'll be exploring the link between oral health and overall health, then citing tips on how you can maintain it.

What's the Connection Oral Hygiene and Overall Health?

Like every other part of your body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria. This is both a good thing and a bad thing, it is really all about the strains of bacteria present and the balance between all the different strains.  

That is the reason being following regular hygiene practices–you don’t want to let the bacteria growth get out of hand.

A study on the workings of the oral microbiome found that the microbes in one's oral cavity greatly contribute to other aspects of bodily health. In particular, imbalances in the strains of microbes can lead to the development of illnesses, including periodontal diseases and circulatory system-related diseases.

Moreover, your mouth is the passageway to your digestive and respiratory tracts. Failure to keep bacteria buildup and balance under control in your oral cavity can, in turn, jeopardize the health of those bodily systems.

What follows is a list of conditions that can be linked to poor oral health:

  • Cardiovascular diseases, primarily endocarditis
  • Respiratory infections, like pneumonia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Diabetic complications
  • Dementia
  • Pregnancy complications, primarily premature birth and low birth weight

How Can You Maintain Your Oral Health?

Even with all these potential complications, plenty of people neglect their oral hygiene. In fact, a sizable amount of the population suffers from poor oral health with 26% of adults suffering from untreated tooth decay and 46% showing signs of gum disease.

This is why you need to make sure you're scheduling regular checkups with your dentist. The recommendation is to visit every six months, or 3 to 4 months for people who have issues with their dental or overall oral health. The point is that they can evaluate the state of your oral health and pinpoint any problem areas. They will also give you personalized recommendations based on the state of your oral cavity.

And remember, early detection means easier repairs, financial savings and less of a harmful impact on your overall health.

And it is not just dentists and hygienists, other healthcare professionals can be influential in imparting good oral hygiene.

For example, according to a journal article by the Nursing Times, nurses can be particularly useful in promoting healthy practices at a young age. A child’s first contact with any healthcare professional, at least one that they can remember, is usually a nurse. Nurses that have taken RN to BSN programs will have trained in specialist areas, such as oral health, in order to provide practical information for patients. While not as specialized as a dentist, these nurses will be able to spot certain health issues during a general check-up and recommend the best course of action. On a wider scale they will be able to educate patients on basic personal health practices like good oral hygiene.

And of great importance, don’t underestimate the critical value of staying consistent with oral hygiene practices. Don't underestimate the power of brushing regularly and flossing daily. This is not an action you can catch up on as bacteria growth is continual and so you MUST maintain a routine of daily dental hygiene. This action is done to disrupt the bacterial growth cycle. This is best done twice daily–morning and bedtime, just make it a habit.

You are not just removing food particles, you are keeping your oral bacteria under control. It is not about getting rid of bacteria as that is both impossible and unwanted. You just want to control the growth, so don't skip brushing, even if you haven't eaten.

Also, cutting down on your intake of certain foods, such as sour candies, sweets and carbonated drinks. Too much of these can be bad for your oral health as the sugars really kick the bacteria growth into overdrive (especially the bacterial strains you don’t want to encourage) and the acidic level of carbonated drinks will damage your enamel. And if you do want to indulge in a treat, keep it an isolated treat. It is not so much the amount of sugars but the amount and time of exposure that makes a difference.

The mouth is the gateway to total body wellness. Because it plays such a huge role in maintaining your overall health, these seemingly trivial oral hygiene practices should be taken seriously. Sticking to your daily brushing routine could help save you from a world of physical woes.


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