Just how important is it to take care of your mouth? Should we be spending more time brushing and flossing? Let’s find out in today’s guest article by Dr. Kathi Mansell.
Your mouth is considered to be the window to your overall health. One can learn so much about the overall health of of a person just by taking a peek into their mouth. Speaking as a dentist, we’re not here to judge! We are just as concerned as you about our health and have a few useful tidbits of information to those who are looking to brighten their future with a brighter smile.
So what is the connection between the mouth and your overall health? Well, the mouth is an interesting place because there is a tremendous amount of bacteria that live within it. A lot of these bacteria are helpful or don’t pose any immediate risk to your health, but some of them do. Without a solid oral hygiene routine, you could be fighting a losing battle against tooth loss and much worse.
The Gum Connection
The gums are but a thin interface between all these bacteria and the bloodstream. Through the gums, infection can be passed into the bloodstream and into systems where they can cause serious damage. Further, there are many studies that have shown that oral bacteria and inflammation that are frequently associated with serious periodontal disease can play an adverse role in some diseases. Diseases like HIV and diabetes, that are known to affect the immune system and lower the bodies resistance to infection can make oral issues like this significantly worse.
Steps You Can Take To Ensure Your Oral Health
Ensuring great oral health is very similar to ensuring great overall health – find healthy habits that work for you and stick to them. It can seem daunting at first, to tackle oral health issues – it all boils down to healthy routines. Not surprisingly, the most important ones are the most obvious ones – brushing and flossing.
You should be brushing at least twice a day, preferably after meals. Generally, this falls after breakfast and right before bed. By doing this you aren’t only dislodging and washing away food particles, you are ensuring that the bad bacteria that thrive on the sugars and acids in your mouth aren’t allowed to buildup. When these bad bacteria buildup for a long enough period of time they can harden into a substance known as tartar. Tartar is very hard to remove.
Flossing should be done at least once a day and does a great job at removing the bacterial buildup between teeth. Brushing and flossing are your most powerful tools in the fight against bacteria and decay in your mouth.
See your dentist for routine examinations and cleaning at least twice a year. This is huge. When you visit your dentist, they hit all the problem spots that you miss in your brushing and flossing routines and alert you to any problems they might see on the horizon.
Easy Additions to Your Oral Health Routine That Make a Big Difference
Eating healthy and limiting your intake of sugars and extremely acidic foods and drinks can make a huge difference in your oral health.
When you can’t brush or floss your teeth there is another option – rinsing. Rinsing your mouth out with water is a great way to dislodge food particles and nasty bacteria after a meal or a snack.
One thing that people often forget or don’t consider is the toothbrush itself. Make sure you get a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush gently with it. Most importantly, make sure to replace your toothbrush at least every three months. This is a tool that you use to clean bacteria and food from your teeth – it will suffer from bacterial buildup after a few months.
Oral health is a commitment that can pay off not only in the beauty of your smile, but in your continued overall health.
About the Author
Kathy M. Mansell, DMD is a cosmetic dentist in Scottsdale, AZ. Originally from Allentown, Pennsylvania, she obtained a BS degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Drexel University in Philadelphia. After working as a Registered Dietitian for 3 years, she entered dental school at Temple University, School Of Dentistry. Upon graduation in 1981, she completed a one year residency in Hospital Dentistry at the Genesee Hospital in Rochester, New York.
Do you have any oral healthcare tips that have worked for you? Share them with us in the comment section below.