Dental health and physical health are inextricably linked and many of their problems reflected in each other. However, saying this, many American adults do not visit the dentist regularly, as is the case with many children. Although many people believe that you only need to visit the dentist when you have a toothache or visible oral problems, it is important to take your dental health more seriously. Ignoring your dental health can lead to many harmful effects and diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Tooth decay is the most cause of tooth problems, with adults having on average 3 decayed or missing teeth. The cause of tooth decay can be caused by poor brushing or eating sugary foods and drinks. These sugars cause plaque, which, if allowed to build up, weakens the enamel of your teeth and causes holes called cavities. While this may mean a trip to the dentist for a filling, having many decayed teeth can lead to other problems with chewing and tooth loss. Therefore, it is vital that you take your dental health seriously and visit regularly and as soon as you feel any pain or notice vital changes such as bad breath.
Whilst tooth decay is important for a healthy smile, gum disease is the biggest danger when it comes to protecting your physical health. Gum disease is caused most regularly by poor oral hygiene such as not brushing your teeth or even brushing too hard, as this creates gaps for bacteria to enter. Gum disease occurs when your gums become inflamed, leading to an early stage known as gingivitis. This can lead to red, swollen gums and bleeding gums when you brush your teeth, which signals an infection in the lining of your teeth.
Gum disease is important to prevent as it can lead to other issues with your physical health. Bacteria from your infected gums can flow into your bloodstream and affect other areas of your body such as the brain and heart by damaging their blood vessels over a long period of time. This leads to numerous complications and increases your risk for many life-threatening diseases such as throat cancer and strokes.
Your oral health can be affected by many different diseases such as Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is linked to periodontal bone, and tooth loss as bones become weaker and more brittle. This shows the definite link between physical health and oral health, with many other diseases such as anorexia and arthritis also affecting oral health. The fact that so many diseases affect our oral health questions whether this does not affect us the other way around, when gum disease and other health issues may even be causing some of the dental problems we may have to face during our lives.
A decline in oral health can also be connected and caused by low mental health, as when people have severe mental health problems, they often do not care for their teeth as well as possible, leaving them with serious problems such as decay. In fact, people have severe mental health problems are over two times as likely to have lost all of their teeth. Although these statistics have been taken from small study groups, they show the importance of maintaining good oral health in relation to other illnesses and how taking oral health seriously can help to indicate other health problems, especially as research becomes more in-depth. This shows the extent to which oral health can be affected by a variety of other health issues and shows the importance of calling for a greater examination of oral health and its effects on other aspects of the body.
Gum disease can be an important indicator of many other diseases and so visiting your dentist regularly is vital to catch diseases early. Surprisingly, one of the diseases that can be found through hygiene check-ups is Alzheimer’s. If you have gum disease for over ten years, there is a 70 % higher risk for developing the illness, as with most infections that cause inflammation. Having Alzheimer’s is also deeply related to worsening oral hygiene as the illness progresses and patients are less able to care for their teeth. Although it has not been found whether Alzheimer’s can be caused by gum disease or vice versa, the facts highlight the importance of caring for your teeth throughout your life and the effect that poor oral hygiene can have later.
Another disease with double-edged oral health problems is Type 2 Diabetes, which having gum disease can help increase the risk of. However, having diabetes can also make your oral health deteriorate, leading to a large risk factor that needs to be handled by professionals. Diabetes is majorly affected by inflammation and gum disease as these can make it harder to control blood sugar levels, as gum disease increases your blood sugars. Additionally, gum disease can be caused by diabetes as people with diabetes are more susceptible to infection. Therefore, people with a high risk of getting diabetes due to genetic factors or weight should be extra vigilant in going to the dentist and maintaining a rigorous oral hygiene routine.
Periodontitis, the later form of gum disease, is also a factor in both strokes and heart disease. People with periodontitis are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than those without, an average that increases to three times more likely when discussing strokes. Both of these health effects are due to the increase of bacteria in the bloodstream. When oral bacterial causes arterial disease this can enter our blood and cause blood clots in our arteries, leading effects on our heart and our brain, such as heart attacks and strokes. This has led to people at high risk of infective endocarditis (an infection of the heart’s surface) being given extra antibiotics before any important dental procedures. Visiting the dentist can show up the early signs of these diseases and make them more manageable through devices such as prescription toothpaste and antibiotics.
Many types of cancer are also affected greatly by bad oral hygiene, especially women’s cancers such as esophageal, breast and gallbladder cancer. This is particularly alarming when considering alongside the fact that 38% of women live with periodontitis in the USA. The increase in esophageal cancer is due to its proximity to oral cavities, meaning that bacteria can easily travel to and infect the area. However, less obviously, lung cancer is also associated with gum disease, showing the vast array of cancers that can be affected by the health of your gums. Lung cancer is a high-risk disease in terms of periodontitis as people with gum disease are constantly breathing bacteria from their mouths into their lungs. This can cause inflammation and swelling and can also cause lung infections for the same reason.
However, even though gum disease is a large risk factor for many life-threatening diseases, there are many preventative measures you can take to lessen the chance of you contracting these illnesses. The most important one is to visit your dentist regularly, with nearly 50% of adults avoiding dental attendance, even if you do not necessarily feel any pain or see any symptoms such as swelling or stained teeth. Although you should see your dentist immediately if you contract any of these issues, it is important to see your dentist at least once a year, and twice yearly if possible. Professionals can find problems with your teeth that may not have any symptoms and catch gum disease before it is too late. They can also advise you on the best care for your teeth on an individual basis, from the toothpaste you should use to your flossing technique. These will help provide you with preventative measures that could stop you from having to take medications or surgical measures.
Kent Express supply the professional dental products that can help you to provide a healthy oral lifestyle for your patients, to keep teeth healthy and clean, including equipment such as interdental brushes and whitening treatments. These products are high-quality items from the best manufacturers, with a knowledgeable customer service team that can find the right balance between the best equipment for your patients and your dental practice. Your dentist can use products such as these to improve the quality of your teeth and manage any issues you may face, improving the overall health and cosmetics of your teeth.
Maintaining a good oral care routine at home is vital for preventing major diseases and looking after your teeth on a daily basis. Many people neglect their daily routines due to time constraints, and 29% of people in the UK say that they only brush their teeth once a day. You should aim to brush your teeth twice a day with a good toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. You should brush for two minutes and, for even better care, floss daily to eradicate any plaque build-up between your teeth. If you are prone to plaque build-up, using a good mouthwash can also help to protect your teeth from bacteria and sugar and can be recommended by your dentist.
You should also cut down on sugary drinks and snacks as these have the largest impact on your teeth through tooth decay and weakening enamel- however, you should also be careful of the high sugar content in fruit, especially citrus, as these are acidic and can weaken your enamel. Another good way of preventing gum disease is also to avoid brushing hard as this can damage the enamel on your teeth and erode your gums. Maintaining a simple dental routine does not have to be difficult, but it has a large impact on caring for your teeth and keeping up good dental hygiene for the future.
Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is especially important for parents. Children learn good oral hygiene practices from watching their parents and so it is vital to set a good example for your children to follow. In terms of brushing technique and time spent brushing, it is similar to how adults should brush their teeth. Children should brush for two minutes twice a day with a soft to medium brush and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
To encourage your children to brush correctly, try brushing at the same time as them. As well as giving them encouragement, this also gives you the opportunity to advise them on their brushing and check that they are brushing correctly. If they are reluctant brushers, try to encourage them by setting goals and challenges or by viewing their routine as a game- try buying a sand timer to check that they are brushing for two minutes at a time and make their routine entertaining.
Instilling the right oral care in your child early is the easiest way to help them to see the importance of good oral health, and so physical health, throughout their lives. The sooner you instill these routines and educate your children on the importance of brushing your teeth, the more likely they are to carry these practices for life and fully understand the importance and effects of oral care. Keeping your own oral health in check is as important, and you can lead by example by considering your own health routine, and any areas you could improve.
You wouldn’t leave a broken leg unchecked by the doctor, and in the same manner, you should not leave dental issues to be ignored. Oral hygiene is of great importance to lead both a painless and healthy lifestyle and for the prevention of other physical diseases such as heart disease and cancer. The connection between our teeth and the rest of our body can affect our health in great ways, and to maintain an active body, all parts must be kept healthy through regular check-ups and self-care. This is no less important for your dental hygiene, and going to the dentist regularly, along with excellent and routine oral care will enable you to keep both your teeth and your body, happy.