The dictionary defines dental hygiene as the practice of keeping your mouth, teeth, and gums clean and healthy. Sounds simple, and it is. Regular dental checkups and preventive care, along with daily brushing and flossing, are about all you need to keep your smile at its best.
Even when you’ve let things slide, maybe skipped a checkup or put off daily flossing and developed cavities or irritated gums, Dr. Murat Atli and his team at Global Dental Services can restore your oral health and make your smile bright again.
Good dental hygiene is so valuable that dental practitioners devote the month of October to increasing community awareness about its benefits. But the need to maintain good dental hygiene goes far beyond the cosmetic appeal of a winning smile.
Medical science continues to discover ways in which your oral health is linked to your overall health and what problems noted on a dental exam might indicate about your physical well-being.
The health and oral hygiene connection
You’ve probably heard most of your life that you’ll develop painful tooth decay and serious gum disease if you don’t brush, floss, and see your dentist regularly.
What you may not realize is that poor oral health may also cause or contribute to:
- Endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of your heart and valves
- Cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke
- Pregnancy complications such as premature birth and low birth weight
- Worsening diabetes control
Conversely, medical conditions that can negatively affect your oral health include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Eating disorders
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Certain immune system disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome, which can decrease saliva production
What’s saliva got to do with it?
Your body creates saliva to maintain necessary moistness in your mouth and wash away acids produced by infection-causing bacteria. It’s surprisingly important to your overall oral health. But many medications can decrease saliva flow, including:
- Antihistamines, decongestants, and other medication used for allergies and sinus issues
- Pain medications
- Diuretics, which are often used to decrease fluid volume in your body that can negatively impact your blood pressure and pulmonary conditions such as COPD
Never stop your medications without checking with your physician; they’ve been prescribed to protect your health and reduce concerning symptoms. However, your medications may influence Dr. Alti’s treatment recommendations, so be sure you give him an accurate list of the medicines and supplements you take.
Bacteria, how their search for a home impacts your health
It’s probably safe to blame bacteria for most of the health problems associated with poor dental hygiene.
Your mouth, like everyone else’s, is teeming with bacteria. Many are harmless. Others are the type that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease when not controlled by brushing, flossing, and routine dental care. Let them thrive for too long, and they can reach beyond your teeth and jaw and start causing problems with your overall health.
These tiny, infection-causing invaders are experts at finding vulnerable areas in your mouth where they can hitch a ride within your bloodstream and travel throughout your body. Decayed or missing teeth, gum disease, and other consequences of poor dental hygiene help create the tissue damage bacteria use to gain access to your bloodstream.
Studies continue to show that bacteria and the inflammation associated with gum disease and other oral infections might play a significant role in the serious medical conditions linked to poor dental hygiene. The good news is that improvements in dental hygiene can effectively reduce your risk of developing these conditions.
Take advantage of National Dental Hygiene Month. For expert dental care that goes beyond keeping your teeth white and your gums healthy, call Global Dental Services or request your appointment online.