Many people don’t pay much attention to proper dental care. Some even think that the worst that can happen to them when they skip brushing their teeth or avoid seeing their dentist is tooth decay. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Proper oral hygiene is vital for good overall health. Having healthy gums, teeth, and inner mouth can lower your risk for a myriad of serious health conditions.
What is Proper Oral Hygiene?
If you want to keep your pearly whites for the rest of your life, you need to practice good oral hygiene. To help you achieve that, you need to follow these tips:
- Brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
- Make flossing a daily habit to remove plaque and food lodged between your teeth.
- Quit smoking.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat healthy fruits and vegetables every day.
- Make dental visits at least once every six months, even if you don’t have any dental problems. If you’re afraid of dentists, there are many ways to lessen your dental visit anxiety. One way to do that is to ask a friend or a family member to be your support person during your appointment.
How Does Proper Dental Care Benefit Overall Health?
With so many things one needs to do to ensure good oral hygiene, it’s not surprising that dental care is often neglected. But if having white teeth and a beautiful smile is not enough to motivate you, then perhaps knowing that proper dental care can also affect your general health will make you pay more attention to your oral hygiene.
Below are the health benefits that you can look forward to with proper dental care:
- Boost Your Confidence and Prevent Depression
Besides oral hygiene, an essential part of dental care includes correct alignment of the teeth via orthodontic treatment. People who have straight teeth are more likely to smile and laugh without impediment.
In contrast, those who have tooth irregularities may feel shy or compelled to hide their condition. People with crooked, misaligned, or even decaying teeth cannot show their smiles or even speak without covering their mouths. What may seem to be aesthetic dental problems can affect your self-confidence, which can even lead to depression.
Crooked, crowding, or misaligned teeth can be hard to clean and floss. If you cannot clean your teeth properly, bacteria in your mouth may flourish and cause embarrassing problems like bad breath, gum inflammation, and tooth decay.
Apart from appearance, orthodontic treatment can also help improve specific types of speech problems. People who have speech impediments usually have low self-esteem. Some may even suffer trauma from being bullied as kids due to their speech flaws.
People who slur may have crowded teeth. It can impede the tongue’s movements and affect speech. Also, having improper bites can prevent individuals from pronouncing some letters of the alphabet clearly. Moreover, jaw problems caused by teeth grinding or bruxism can lead to speech impediments.
If you have tooth gaps, crooked teeth, and other orthodontic-related problems, it would be best to see a specialist, such as Super Smiles Orthodontics, to have your teeth or bite fixed. These treatments may require the patient to wear braces, retainers, or other accessories for several months to address the problems.
- Minimize Risk for Other Health Complications
Dental health can be linked to developing other conditions that are not at all related to the teeth, gums, and mouth. Here are some health problems you can prevent by practicing good oral hygiene and proper dental care:
Infertility, especially in women, can be linked to poor dental health. A study conducted in Western Australia has shown that women with gum infections may take longer to conceive compared to those who have good oral health. So, if you plan to have a baby, take extra care of your mouth, teeth, and gums.
- Pregnancy Complications
Pregnant women should observe good oral hygiene because hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase their risk for oral infections. Any infection in pregnant women can lead to low birth weight and even premature birth. Regular visits to the dentist can help soon-to-be mothers and the child they’re carrying avoid major health complications.
- Erectile Dysfunction
Chronic periodontal disease has been linked to erectile dysfunction. It’s a type of infection caused by receding gums. It occurs when pockets are formed as the gums shrink, allowing bacteria to enter and spread to the bones, surrounding teeth, and even the bloodstream. When that happens, bacteria may trigger inflammation that inhibits blood flow in some regions of the body. If the genital area is affected, you may find it difficult or even impossible to have an erection.
- Respiratory Infections
Gum diseases seem to be expected and benign in most people. But it can increase one’s risk for many illnesses. Bacteria in your mouth may advance to your lungs and can wreak havoc in your respiratory system. Some of the severe conditions to watch out for include pneumonia, bronchitis, and even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) if you have a gum infection.
The connection between dementia and oral health may seem farfetched. But bacteria from inflamed gums can travel to different parts of the body via nerve channels. The brain is not exempted from such risk. With bacteria entering your brain, you may experience inflammation and decreased blood flow in the area. This can result in dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease.
- Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular diseases can be life-threatening. It would be best to do everything you can to reduce your risk of developing any heart condition. Aside from exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and choosing a well-balanced diet, you should also practice good oral hygiene to protect your heart.
Bacteria from periodontal diseases could enter your bloodstream from the head to the arteries in your heart. When that happens, you may have atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries’ inner walls. Consequently, the plaques formed in your arteries could impede blood flow to your heart and trigger a stroke or heart attack.
Endocarditis is another cardiovascular condition that may develop because of gingivitis or gum infection. It’s an infection in the heart’s inner lining. Since bacteria cause this condition, you can treat it with antibiotics. However, if you have a poor immune system or you’re not aware that you already have this condition, you might need surgery to treat the damage caused by the prolonged infection.
- Prevent Bacteria from Entering Your System
Your mouth is one of the many ways where bacteria can reside and enter your body. Although the mouth is full of microorganisms, most of them can pose no harm. But since you can’t tell good bacteria from the bad ones, it would be best to stay prudent and practice good oral care. It will prevent harmful bacteria from proliferating inside your mouth and causing problems like gum disease, oral infections, and tooth decay.
Besides, bacteria that enter your mouth can go down to your digestive tract or respiratory system and put your health at risk of acquiring other diseases.
- Address Major Causes of Dental Pain
A toothache is one of the most intolerable pains known to man. It’s not surprising because toothaches are often caused by pulpitis or inflammation of the pulp. This condition may be due to infection, cavities, or trauma. The pain occurs in the sensitive nerve endings found in the pulp of each tooth.
Having crooked teeth can also cause toothaches. Misaligned teeth can lead to improper bites, which, in turn, can bring about additional strain to the affected teeth and the jaw muscles. If your problem is left untreated, the excessive strain can eventually cause jaw pain and teeth sensitivity. Sometimes, the pressure can also cause cracks in your teeth, increasing the risk of painful tooth breaks.
Did you know that headaches can be attributed to dental problems? If you have crooked or misaligned teeth, your jaw muscles will feel constant strain because of the constant gnashing of your teeth against each other.
By the same token, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can also induce unbearable pain. This condition occurs at the joint linking the lower jaw to the skull. TMJ troubles can be caused by teeth grinding, arthritis, or congenital skeletal disorders in the jaw. Typical symptoms include facial pain, obstructed jaw movement, and tenderness in the affected area. To treat TMJ disorders, you need the help of an orthodontist. Without proper treatment, complications may spread to your neck, face, and even shoulders. Some patients experience popping or locking of their jaws.
Proper dental care can benefit not just your teeth and gums, but also your overall health. Good dental health can boost your confidence, lessen your risk for other diseases, stop bacteria from entering your bloodstream, and prevent toothaches and other pains caused by dental disorders. So, it’s in your best interest to observe good oral hygiene. You can do this by brushing your teeth properly, eating healthy food, and making regular visits to your dentist.
Aside from oral hygiene, some problems may be caused by the shape and alignment of the teeth. Crooked, crowded, and misaligned teeth can cause infections, speech disorders, and even insecurity that may lead to depression. You will need to make a visit to an orthodontist to fix irregularities in your teeth and jaw.