Did you know that proper dental hygiene can benefit your oral health as well as your overall health? The obvious benefits of brushing your teeth and flossing regularly include fewer cavities and minty fresh breath. However, good oral hygiene can have other positive effects on your health.
Moreover, your mouth provides a window into your body’s health. The oral cavity can be inspected for signs of infections or nutritional deficiencies; and oral lesions can help to indicate the presence of systemic diseases. Yet still, many people take good dental hygiene for granted.
A common misconception is that you only need to see your dentist when something is wrong with your teeth or if you are in pain. The truth is that regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene practices can help to prevent dental diseases.
Common Problems Related to Poor Oral Hygiene
Various dental health issues can be associated with poor oral hygiene. It just depends on which area of the mouth is affected. The teeth, gums and surrounding structures can suffer damages if oral hygiene is neglected. In the end, it may be worth your time to put some extra effort into your dental hygiene habits.
Dental caries or tooth decay is a common oral health problem in developed countries.
Plaque build-up is a leading cause of tooth decay. The germs contained in the plaque react with the sugars and the starches in the food you eat to form acids. The sticky enamel then keeps the acids next to the teeth and the tooth enamel is dissolved as calcium and phosphate are lost. This process is known as demineralization.
In the early development of caries, a small patch of softened tooth enamel forms at the tooth surface. It may not be visible as it could develop between the teeth or in the grooves of the teeth. The softer more sensitive part of the tooth may then become affected and the weakened enamel collapses. A cavity is formed in the tooth and it is destroyed progressively.
Saliva dilutes and neutralizes acids that cause demineralization and therefore, it acts as a natural defense against dental caries. It also provides a reservoir for minerals adjacent to the tooth enamel from which the enamel can be healed after the acid has been neutralized. The tooth enamel is broken down and formed again many times during a day. When this balance is disturbed, caries can progress.
Dental erosion is a gradual process during which the tooth enamel is eroded by the action that acid has on the teeth. Tooth erosion is different to the damage that is caused by bacteria and it affects the entire tooth surface. Eventually the thinned enamel can expose the dentine which is found underneath the enamel. Dentine is very sensitive and your teeth will become more sensitive to heat, cold or sweet foods and drinks.
Gum disease occurs when the tissues surrounding the teeth become infected or inflamed. The build-up of plaque is closely associated with the development of gum disease. Gum tissue, bone and the supporting structures that hold the teeth in place can be harmed.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to bad breath or halitosis. The bad smell is caused by bacteria that accumulate in the mouth.
The Mouth-Body connection
Bacteria that build up on the teeth make your gums susceptible to infection. Oral infections trigger the immune system which then begins to attack the infection by starting an inflammatory process. The inflammation will continue if the infection is not treated.
Over time, the continuing inflammation can release chemicals that may lead to gum disease or periodontitis. Inflammation also causes problems in other parts of the body.
Other conditions that are Connected to Poor Oral Hygiene
Neglected oral hygiene is not only associated with oral health problems. A number of other health issues have been connected to gum disease. Germs that enter the bloodstream through the mouth can travel to other parts of the body and make infections more likely.
Links have been made between poor oral hygiene and various conditions including:
This shows that the benefits of good dental hygiene can go a long way.
Dental Hygiene Tips
Oral hygiene involves brushing your teeth regularly and cleaning thoroughly between your teeth to make sure you keep your teeth and your gums as healthy as possible. This way you can prevent tooth decay and maintain healthy gums.
By choosing the best oral hygiene products for teeth cleaning you can have a healthy mouth with pearly white teeth.
North York dentists believe that taking care of oral hygiene can help you achieve optimal dental health. Here are some dental tips for patients, recommended by our dentists, on how to maintain oral hygiene:
Brush your teeth twice a day
It is important to brush your teeth twice daily once just before you go to bed at night and once in the morning before you eat or drink anything.
Your toothbrush should fit properly into your mouth so that you can reach all the areas in your oral cavity with ease. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush as hard bristles can damage your gums.
For thorough brushing follow these suggestions:
Brush your teeth at the right time
The ideal time to brush your teeth is just before you eat or alternatively, at least 30 minutes after eating. Many foods and certain drinks contain acids that can soften the enamel of the teeth. You should not brush your teeth immediately after eating when the enamel is fragile.
Don’t get sentimental about your toothbrush. The experts suggest that it needs to be replaced every 3-4 months. However, if the bristles are frayed, you may need to replace it sooner. A toothbrush that is worn out will not clean your teeth properly.
Choose fluoride toothpaste
Fluoride is an element found in nature that can prevent tooth decay. It can be ingested through food sources and water in small amounts or it can be applied topically to teeth.
The benefit of toothpastes containing fluoride stems from the topical effect that it has on dental enamel. It can make the tooth enamel less soluble in acid and it helps to restore the mineral loss of the enamel caused by acids. Use good quality fluoride-containing toothpaste to help protect and restore your teeth.
It is important to clean between your teeth on a daily basis as it may help to prevent cavities and gum disease. Flossing is an essential part of maintaining good oral health. By flossing you can remove the hard-to-reach debris between the teeth that contribute to plaque build-up.
Cleaning between the teeth can also help to remove the existing bacteria-containing plaque. When plaque is not removed between your teeth, it eventually develops into a rough substance known as tartar (or calculus). This tartar collects along the gum line and it may lead to gum disease. Once tartar has formed, only a dentist can remove it.
Remember that it is normal to feel some discomfort when you floss. Flossing should not be painful. If you floss too hard, you could damage the gum tissue between your teeth. On the other hand, if you are too gentle, you may not be able to get the food and plaque out.
Protect teeth from injury
Don’t use your teeth to crack nuts, rip open packaging or remove bottle tops. You may risk chipping or even breaking your teeth. When you play sports, wear a mouth guard. Your dentist can make one for you that fits perfectly.
Re-think what you eat or drink
Sugars in the mouth are a big cause for concern as far as food and drink are concerned. There is significant evidence that the frequent consumption of foods or drinks containing sugar is connected to the development of dental caries.
The germs that are found in the plaque that hides in your mouth use sugar to make acid that contributes to tooth decay. Keep these tips in mind for healthy teeth and gums:
Tobacco products are known to stain the teeth and they can increase your risk for getting oral cancer. Quitting your smoking habit may be the best thing you can do for the health of your mouth and body. Research shows that the risk for severe gum disease in someone who smokes is three times higher than in someone who doesn’t smoke.
Check your mouth
Inspect your oral cavity and teeth at least once a month. Get educated on what is normal. Any sores that do not start healing or disappear within two weeks need to be checked out by a dental health professional.
Visit your dentist for regular check-ups
Make sure that you see your dentist regularly for check-ups. You also need to visit your dentist for any dental problems like toothaches or bleeding gums.
Daily brushing and flossing along with healthy habits for oral hygiene will help to keep dental tartar to a minimum. However, during a professional cleaning at a dentist, tartar can be removed in places where your toothbrush or floss may have missed.
Oral Hygiene Facts to Take Home
Dental Hygiene Benefits
Clearly, good dental hygiene has various benefits for our health of which some are quite surprising. Our North York dentists know about oral hygiene practices and how they can help to protect your health. Get in touch with our dentists to learn how dental hygiene can keep your smile healthy!