A healthy mouth is an indication of a healthy body. This statement rings true for people of all ages, from newborn to the aged.
Many of us assume that oral health boils down to brushing our teeth twice a day and flossing regularly. We only visit the dentist when it is absolutely necessary, say when we are having tooth trouble, and a good number of us don’t honor the duty we owe to ourselves to have a dental check-up at least two times a year.
But a healthy mouth is crucial to your overall health. In addition to ensuring you don’t miss your dental checks, we hope the information on dental health we have presented below helps you take better care of your mouth and adopt good oral healthcare.
Is Mouth Bacteria Good or Bad?
The mouth is home to hundreds of different bacteria. The mouth can host between 500 and 700 bacteria, and at any given time, there will be up to 300 bacteria co-existing inside the mouth. Most of these bacteria are harmless. Quite the contrary, they are helpful in that;
- They fight bad odor.
- Protect against oral diseases like dental caries and oral candida.
- Kick-start and aid indigestion.
As you might imagine, there are also some bad guys in that huge number of bacteria that is found in the mouth. Harmful bacteria are responsible for some oral diseases, including gum disease and gingivitis, and can transmit disease-causing microbes to your bloodstream, leading to serious illnesses.
The Link between Oral Health and Other Diseases
Physicians can tell a lot about your health by inspecting your saliva. There are numerous diagnostic tests done on the saliva to determine things like cancer onset, bone loss, stress levels, and the presence of particular antibodies such as those of HIV and hepatitis.
When something is seriously wrong within the body, the mouth is one of the places where indicators of this abnormality are first detected. This is more so when a systemic illness is involved.
Systemic illnesses are those that affect the entire body and are not limited to a specific part. In this case, one may suddenly develop lesions, sores, thrush or mouth wounds. Oral thrush is one of the symptoms of diabetes, for instance.
Even things like developing a distinct taste in the mouth or a dry mouth can be indicators that there are some changes taking place inside your body.
By paying close attention to your mouth, feeling around the mouth with your tongue, taking note of any changes that appear, and identifying how your mouth tastes, you’ll be in a position to tell when something is not quite right. This helps you stay alert and take notice of additional changes in the body, so you can seek medical attention at the earliest stage possible.
Health scientists have found a link between mouth bacteria and cardio diseases. Studies show that bad bacteria from the mouth can cause inflammation in different parts of the body. In the heart, it causes plagues in arteries, which increase stroke and heart attack risk. Gum disease has also been found to be responsible for carotid artery plague.
More health conditions linked to gum disease include:
Worse cases of diabetes. Medics advocate for early treatment of gum diseases if present in diabetes patients because it can cause insulin resistance, making it more difficult to control diabetes.
On the other side of the coin, being diabetic increases your likelihood of developing gum disease.
Gum disease has also been found to be a major cause of preterm delivery. It also causes mothers to give birth to low birth weight babies. This happens when microbes from bad bacteria in the mouth find their way into the placenta, where they interrupt the development of the fetus.
Poor oral health is an indicator of worsening Alzheimer’s disease.
Oral lesions can point to presence of HIV and onset of osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Oral problems are also linked to cancers of the throat, neck, and head.
They are also linked to eating disorders.
So, what should you do?
Simply observe good dental healthcare practices. Visit a dentist every six months. The dentist will be able to identify any anomalies before they grow out of control and become a health risk.
Practices that Ensure Good Dental Health
In particular, brush your teeth every morning and evening. After eating sweet foods during the course of your day, you can rinse your mouth to get rid of food remnants. If you’re in a position, you may brush your teeth after eating during the day. This is one of those practices where the too-much-of-a-thing-is-bad mantra does not apply.
Make flossing a daily habit. Flossing goes deeper into places that are hard to reach for the toothbrush and removes any bits of food and plague that may be stuck in between your teeth.
Schedule for a professional dental cleaning. If you’re consistent with your dental checkups, your dentist will automatically schedule these into your checkup routine. Still, it’s perfectly fine to request your dentist for one if you haven’t had a dental cleaning done in a while.
Carefully choose what foods to eat. Pick healthy meals over junk and refined foods. Avoid sugary snacks and all kinds of sweets. In addition to all the other health risks they pose, refined sugars cause an acidic reaction in your mouth, leading to cavities and tooth decay.
If you must snack in between meals, make it a healthy, natural snack. Your teeth will be happier for it, and your waist line will stay slim.
Avoid taking tobacco.
Replace your toothbrush every three months. The older your toothbrush gets, the less effective it becomes in dislodging food remnants from your teeth. Three months of regular use morning and evening will naturally cause your toothbrush to wear out, so get a new one then.
In summary, good dental healthcare and hygiene go hand in hand in keeping your dental health at an optimal level, and in turn, keeping diseases at bay.