Excellent oral hygiene helps you to keep your mouth healthy, preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Here, our Collingwood dental team explains how a healthy mouth contributes to good overall health and well-being too.
Practicing good oral hygiene is one reasonably reliable predictor of better dental health outcomes.
This means that you are more likely to keep your teeth as you age if you have good oral hygiene and healthcare habits. Since dental health can impact your overall physical well-being, good oral hygiene practices can have a positive effect on your overall health too.
A Healthy Salivary Flow
Saliva is a helpful diagnostic tool, in that it can help doctors and dentists to identify and diagnose systemic diseases before their symptoms become apparent.
Saliva can help to disable bacteria and viruses before they ever have a chance to enter your systems. In fact, saliva is one of your body's prominent defences against organisms that cause disease.
Saliva contains antibodies that attack viral pathogens, such as the common cold and even HIV. It also contains enzymes that destroy bacteria in several different ways, for instance by degrading bacterial membranes, disrupting vital bacterial enzyme systems, and inhibiting the growth and metabolism of some bacteria.
Keeping your salivary flow healthy can be quite easy for most people. The key here is to stay hydrated. Ensure you drink plenty of water all throughout your day to help you maintain a healthy salivary flow.
Dental Plaque & Infection
Your mouth houses over 500 species of bacteria that are constantly forming dental plaque, a sticky, colourless film that clings to your teeth and causes a variety of health problems.
If you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly and thoroughly, you’re allowing dental plaque to build up between your gums and teeth, eventually leading to a gum infection called gingivitis. Left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to a more serious infection called periodontitis (gum disease).
If you develop periodontitis, even something as simple as brushing your teeth or undergoing a professional cleaning can give the bacteria in your mouth an opportunity to enter your body and your bloodstream.
If your immune system is healthy, the presence of oral bacteria in your bloodstream will not cause problems. However, if it has been weakened, for example by a disease or by cancer treatment, oral bacteria in your bloodstream may cause you to develop an infection in another part of your body.
When oral bacteria enter your bloodstream and stick to the lining of diseased heart valves, it is called infective endocarditis, which is a prominent example of this.
Dental Plaque’s Link to Common Conditions
A healthy mouth may help you to ward off certain diseases and medical issues like strokes, heart attacks, complications related to diabetes and even pre-term labour.
Poorly Controlled Diabetes
Chronic gum disease may make diabetes more difficult to control. The infection may cause insulin resistance, which can disrupt blood sugar control.
Bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries, meaning gingivitis may play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots.
In addition, gum disease and tooth loss may contribute to the development of plaques in the carotid artery.