It’s no secret that good oral hygiene is important for keeping your smile bright and your mouth healthy. What you may not realize, however, is that poor dental health can have serious consequences for your overall health. Studies have shown that there is a link between poor oral health and several chronic diseases, including diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
The high cost of dental care and the lack of access to it aggravate this issue. It is particularly apparent in children, the elderly, and racial/ethnic minorities. Oral health disparities are exacerbated by the fact that a cavity grows in size over time and becomes more difficult to treat once it has been ignored for an extended period. Twenty percent of school-aged kids from low-income families have dental sealants to prevent tooth decay.
Here are the consequences of poor dental health and what you can do to prevent them:
The Dangers of Plaque
Plaque is a slimy film of bacteria that develops on your teeth. Suppose it isn’t removed regularly using toothpaste and flossing. In that case, it can harden into tartar, which causes tooth decay and gum disease. Tartar build-up may also cause foul breath. Plaque and tartar are significant risk factors for dental cavities and gum disease.
Did you know that having gum disease doesn’t only affect your oral health? It can also lead to more serious issues such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In fact, people with periodontitis are two times more likely to develop coronary artery disease.
The link between poor oral health and these chronic diseases is thought to be related to inflammation and bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria in plaque can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The deterioration of tooth enamel, which is the hard outer layer of a tooth, is known as tooth decay. Cavities are holes in the teeth that can be caused by tooth decay. Cavities are painful and can eventually lead to tooth loss if they are not treated promptly.
A mixture of plaque, tartar, and acids creates cavities—a rampant oral health issue, especially for children. If they do not take care of their teeth properly or lack nutritious foods in their diet, kids are prone to developing cavities. Infections can occur if the cavity is left untreated and produces severe tooth pain.
If you think you or your children may have cavities, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. These can be treated with fillings, which are materials used to fill in the hole in the tooth. More serious cavities may require a crown or root canal.
Bad breath, also called halitosis, can also be a sign of poor oral health. It can be caused by plaque, tartar, gum disease, tooth decay, and other factors. Halitosis can be embarrassing and make it difficult to socialize.
Caring for your teeth and gums is vital if you wear braces. Since it can be difficult to brush and floss properly while wearing these, this increases the likelihood of developing cavities or gum disease. To keep your gums healthy, aim to brush your teeth at least five times a day for five minutes each time. Be sure that the toothpaste and floss you use are designed specifically for people with braces. In some cases, you may also need to utilize an interdental brush or water flosser in addition to regular brushing and flossing.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Good oral hygiene habits, including brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist regularly, can help prevent tooth decay.
For the proper brushing technique, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your toothbrush for proper brushing. The toothbrush should be at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line, and you should use gentle circular motions. Remember to brush the outer surfaces, inner surfaces, and chewing surfaces of your teeth—and don’t forget your tongue! Spit out the toothpaste after brushing.
To properly floss, wrap the floss around your middle fingers and leave an inch of floss between them. To maneuver the floss between your teeth, use your thumbs and forefingers. Gently slide the floss up and down, keeping it away from your gums as much as possible. When you reach the gum line, curl the floss into a C formation and slide it up and down along the tooth’s edge.
In addition to brushing and flossing, you can use mouthwash to remove bacteria and freshen your breath. Be sure to choose a mouthwash that contains fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.
Seeing your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups is also important. Your dentist can remove plaque and tartar that you may have missed while brushing and flossing. They can also detect problems early on before they become more serious.
The Bottom Line
Poor dental health can have serious consequences for your overall health, so it’s important to take care of your teeth and gums. Brushing and flossing regularly, using fluoride toothpaste, and visiting the dentist regularly are all essential for good oral hygiene. By following these tips, you can keep your smile healthy and sparkling.