Because Mouth Maintenance Matters
Oral hygiene is an essential part of our overall health and wellbeing. A healthy mouth and a winning smile not only makes us look and feel good, but it helps us to eat and speak normally. What’s more, by looking after our oral health, we can protect our overall health, guarding ourselves against more serious illnesses.
While most of us brush our teeth regularly, it is fairly common for people to take a casual approach to flossing and regular dental visits. While it might seem at the time that skipping a few trips to the dentist won’t do any harm, it allows oral health issues to escalate. Ultimately, practising good oral hygiene, and keeping up with regular visits to the dentist is the most effective way to prevent gum disease and keep decay at bay.
The Dangers of Ignoring Your Dental Health
The first thing that happens when we let our oral hygiene slip is that our mouths suffer. However, as cavities and tooth decay are commonplace, and chances are we’ve all had a filling or two, we often don’t take them seriously enough. The problem is that fillings are just the tip of the iceberg and, if not caught in time, the issues that cause them can lead to root canals to try to save our teeth or worse. The truth is that ignoring our dental health can lead to some pretty serious oral health problems:
Gum disease – this starts with gingivitis, red and swollen gums caused by a build-up of plaque between our teeth. When left untreated, it progresses to periodontal disease, where our immune systems start to destroy the tissues and bones in our mouths and create pockets, which can easily become infected.
Bad breath – often caused as a bi-product of gum disease, when food particles are trapped in our mouths, they can start to smell. Ultimately, the more bacteria that is present in our mouths, the more likely we are to have bad breath.
Tooth loss – when tooth decay reaches the pulp of our teeth, fillings can no longer solve the problem. Root canals may be able to preserve the tooth structure but, otherwise, extraction is the only solution. Once we have missing teeth, there are knock-on effects on our remaining teeth, gums and jawbone.
If we ignore our dental health, it’s not only our mouths that suffer, however. Our oral health is strongly linked to our overall health and wellbeing. Bacteria associated with gum disease, when left untreated, can spread to major organs and create new infections. Gum disease has been associated with an increased risk of conditions like heart disease and respiratory infections. Meanwhile, the inflammatory response caused by gum disease can release chemicals into our bloodstreams worsening the likes of cardiovascular disease, arthritis and diabetes.
Prevention and Treatment of Gum Disease
Initially, gum disease presents itself as gingivitis, manifesting as bleeding gums when teeth are brushed. Unfortunately, many people don’t realise the severity of bleeding gums and even think it is normal when brushing. When left untreated, gingivitis will develop into the more serious form of gum disease, periodontitis. This can be noted by the destruction of soft tissues. As gums start to pull away from the teeth, bacteria can develop further in newly formed pockets. Periodontitis can manifest itself quickly, every time food is eaten, or teeth brushed, bacteria are pushed into the body, and further inflammation is triggered.
To prevent gum disease, we need to work to stop the build-up of plaque that forms on our teeth and below the gum line. The plaque is formed from saliva and food particles, which makes brushing teeth an important first step. However, brushing alone is often not sufficient. Plaque likes to hide in the hard-to-reach areas between our teeth. This is where flossing comes into play, allowing us to remove the accumulation of plaque along the gum line.
Gingivitis is the milder form of gum disease and can be treated with professional dental cleaning. However, to stop it from returning, you need to combine professional cleaning with an improved oral hygiene routine which includes regular brushing and flossing. When gum disease progresses to periodontitis, professional help is again needed. This involves deep scaling and root planing to clean between the teeth and gums, down to the roots. In severe cases, surgery may be required to resolve the problem.
Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to improve your oral hygiene:
You probably know that you should brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning and before bed. But, are you doing it properly? You should spend at least two minutes brushing, ensuring that all areas are cleaned. The key is to aim the bristles directly at the gum line rather than the top of the tooth, as this is where plaque will most likely start to form. Move your toothbrush in a circular motion, and you’ll clean away as much plaque from the gums as possible.
Use the right tools
If you use a manual toothbrush, soft bristles are kinder on your gums, and a small head will give you better access to your back teeth. Alternatively, an electric toothbrush can make brushing easier, ensuring you use the right brushing motion. Whatever brush you use, make sure you use a fluoride toothpaste to prevent mineral loss, strengthen enamel and help reduce the risk of decay
Your technique is important. You should floss once a day by running a piece of floss between your teeth using a slow and gentle sawing motion.
reducing the amount of sugary food and drink you consume, can make a big difference to your oral health. Sugary substances convert to acids which easily dissolve the minerals in tooth enamel. By trying to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, you’ll be giving your body a fighting chance.
Clean some more
As well as brushing and flossing, you can also use antiseptic mouthwash to help kill germs, or at least water to wash away food debris. Another handy tip is to clean your tongue to remove bacteria.
Visit the dentist
The bottom line is that looking after your oral health matters. The best way to prevent gum disease, and other related health issues, is to brush your teeth twice a day, floss and visit the dentist for regular checkups.