Most everyone knows and understands the basics of dental care; Brush your teeth morning and night, floss daily, visit your dentist once a year for a cleaning, and cut down on your sugar consumption to lower the risk of cavities. However, most people don’t realize how much of an impact oral health can have on your overall health. There is much more to oral than simply brushing your teeth and keeping them clean and bright. This article will discuss the importance of good oral health, what you can do to take care of your oral health, and how it can impact your overall health.
Oral Health Basics
Oral healthcare consists of much more than brushing and flossing daily, though that’s a great foundation to start on. If you take the proper steps t0 dedicatedly care for your teeth, they will last you your entire lifetime.
The importance of good oral health is something that should be taught to children from a young age. Teeth need to be cleaned as soon as they start appearing, generally around six months of age, and should never stop. As you age, you will start adding more health care tips, such as flossing, regular visits to your general dentistry office, and limiting the consumption of certain substances, such as alcohol and tobacco. Different health conditions will require more attention and changed routines to health care. However, the thing that never changes is the need to care for your oral health.
Besides brushing, flossing, and a healthy diet, there are a few other daily things you can do to care for your oral health. Certain supplements will strengthen your bones, and thus your teeth, such as calcium and vitamin D. You can also integrate folic acid and omega-3 supplements to strengthen other parts of your health that can impact your oral health. Some probiotics specialize in making sure that the healthy bacteria in your mouth is still present to combat the bad bacteria. You should also consider cutting down on sugary and carbonated drink consumption as research has shown that it can harm the enamel on your teeth and cause oral issues.
While there are basic health care habits everyone should adopt, a lot of people have different needs depending on their specific situation. There are even differences between oral health care for men and women. According to research, men are less likely to brush their teeth twice a day, floss, and visit the dentist, than women. Oral and throat cancer is more common in men and studies have shown that men with periodontal disease are more likely to develop other kinds of cancer than men with healthy dental care habits. It’s important for men to learn the importance of good oral health and to follow healthy habits.
Women also have different things to pay attention to regarding their oral health. Because of fluctuations in hormones, women are more at risk for certain oral health problems. During pregnancy, women may notice a change in the amount of saliva they produce. If they have morning sickness, they will have to take special care of their teeth as excessive amounts of vomit can harm the enamel on their teeth. When women experience menopause, their estrogen levels are lowered which can lead to gum disease.
Teens who are going through puberty and changes as they mature to adulthood also face their own challenges with oral health. Many teens will have dental braces at some point in their life. Brushing and flossing teeth is made more difficult because of this, so many teens often slack on brushing and bypass flossing altogether. It’s important to keep up with these healthy habits, especially during this time where their teeth are adjusting and moving, to ensure that they have not only straight teeth, but healthy teeth as well.
Seniors will struggle with unique issues regarding their oral health as well. As their teeth are older, they are more likely to develop issues. Older people commonly experience tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, and oral cancer. Following the suggested steps as well as visiting a dentist often will help seniors to keep their natural teeth as long as possible and avoid any oral diseases.
Oral Health And Its Connection To General Health
Many people would be surprised to hear all the various ways your oral health can actually impact other parts of your health. But it really should come as no surprise. One of the biggest parts of the importance of good oral health is it’s direct correlation to overall health. Your mouth is one of the most direct entry points for your body, especially for your digestive and respiratory tract. Because of this, harmful bacteria that is left uncontrolled in your mouth can easily enter and harm these bodily systems, as well as many others.
With the right dental care, you can keep the harmful bacteria in your mouth at bay and keep it from causing more issues. But without careful care and assistance from your dentist, this bacteria can become a problem, causing issues in your mouth, such as gum disease and tooth decay, and can then move to the rest of your body.
Health Conditions Linked To Oral Health
When it comes to the importance of good oral health, it’s valuable to know some of the serious health conditions that have been linked to poor oral health.
- Heart Disease, Stroke, and Clogged Arteries: Some research has led scientists to believe that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke might be linked to infections and problems brought about by oral bacteria.
- Birth Complications: Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, has been linked to premature birth and issues like low birth weight.
- Pneumonia and Respiratory Disease: Research shows that certain bacteria in your mouth can move to your lungs which can cause pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
- Endocarditis: Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers. It occurs when bacteria from other parts of your body, such as your mouth, spreads to your bloodstream.
Seeing these serious health conditions that can come from improper dental care can be the jumpstart some people need to understand the importance of good oral health. In reverse, there are also a few health conditions that can negatively impact your oral health.
- Diabetes: Because diabetes lowers your body’s ability to resist infections, you’re at higher risk of getting gum disease. Research has shown that gum disease occurs more frequently among people that have diabetes. In turn, having gum disease also makes it more difficult to control your blood sugar levels which causes problems for those with diabetes, so the two are closely connected. As long as you are getting regular dental treatments, including professional cleaning and checkups, you should be able to avoid gum disease.
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens your bones, including your teeth and jaw bone. It has caused bone loss in the jaw and tooth loss for many people. Some medications that are used to treat osteoporosis also have a risk of damaging your jaw bone. Again, if you pay close attention to your dental care and get regular checkups, you should be able to spot any issues before they become too bad.
- HIV/AIDS: Many people who have HIV/AIDS suffer with oral problems like lesions, oral warts, blisters, dry mouth, and bone loss. People with HIV/AIDS will have to work hard to take care of their teeth despite these side effects.
These health conditions are just a few examples of how closely linked oral health and general health are. They also give a very clear example of the importance of good oral health and how dental care not only impact your teeth and mouth but your entire body.
The importance of good oral health doesn’t stop at physical health. Good oral health can also directly impact your mental health. Your smile is one of the first things people will notice about you, and if you don’t feel comfortable with your teeth, it will reflect in your smile or lack thereof. If you are doing everything you can to care for your teeth, including brushing and flossing, professional cleaning, and even aesthetic treatment for whitening and straightening, you will feel more confident in your smile and in general.
There has also been research performed that shows how poor mental health will negatively impact your oral health. For example, those who suffer from conditions such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or eating disorders, tend to have oral health problems. Anxiety can keep someone from visiting their dentists regularly. Bipolar disorder can bring on actions that reflect in “over-brushing” which harms the enamel on teeth and gum health. Eating disorders, especially bulimia where someone forces themself to throw up to purge food, will harmfully affect oral health because of the acids from throw up.
Signs Of Oral Health Issues
Oral health issues happen for almost everyone at some point in their life. In fact, 60% to 70% of school children have cavities, and almost 100% of adults have at least one cavity. It’s recommended to visit the dentist at least once a year, but twice a year is ideal for staying on top of any potential issues. You shouldn’t wait until you’ve noticed an issue to visit a dentist or orthodontist, depending on the symptom.
However, if you notice any of these following symptoms, you should schedule a dental checkup:
- Ulcers or sores that don’t heal after one to two weeks
- Bleeding or swelling in your gums that seems more than normal
- Sudden sensitivity to hot or cold substances
- Chronic bad breath
- Toothache or shooting pain
- Swelling in your cheeks
- Cracked or broken teeth
If you notice any of these symptoms and also develop a fever, or swelling of the face or neck, you should seek immediate health care.
Common Dental Procedures
There are quite a few common dental procedures you may experience as they strive to take care of your oral health. As you visit your dentist, cavity treatments will be one of the most common. Cavities are very common, even for people who follow the recommended steps to care for their oral health. You may also have to get a filling for a crack or hole in your tooth due to damage or decay.
Some more serious procedures you may have to experience are root canals or getting a crown for a seriously damaged tooth. These are procedures that can still occur even if you are taking good care of your teeth. While you may still experience cavities and other issues, the importance of good oral health is to prevent more serious issues or diseases from arising. Especially because those kinds of issues can harm your overall health.
You may also experience orthodontic treatment depending on the growth of your teeth. Most people visit the orthodontist for braces or an alternate form of straightening, such as Invisalign. Orthodontists can also help people that have jaw issues to correct them or diagnose issues that specialists will need to assist with.
A Healthy Smile And A Healthy Self
Learning the importance of good oral health and its impact on your overall health is important. From a young age, children are taught to brush their teeth and floss so their teeth can be healthy and strong, but they’re not often taught that taking care of their teeth and mouth can help them stay healthy and strong overall. Learning early on about how good oral health can positively impact your body can help people to understand the importance of taking all of the simple steps, brushing their teeth, flossing, visiting the dentist, and will allow them to appreciate it for more than simply providing a beautiful smile.