You can help your mouth stay healthy - and prevent gum disease and dental decay - by practicing good oral hygiene. In this post, our Nepean dentists describe how a healthy mouth can also contribute to better general health and wellbeing.
One reasonably reliable way we can predict better dental health outcomes is to practice good oral hygiene. This means you are more likely to keep your natural teeth as you age if you maintain good oral hygiene habits. Since dental health can impact overall physical wellbeing, good oral hygiene practices can have a positive effect on your overall health.
A Healthy Salivary Flow
Saliva can be a helpful diagnostic indicator in that it can help dentists and doctors to identify and diagnose systemic diseases before their symptoms become obvious.
Plus, saliva can help disable viruses and bacteria before they make their way into your system. In fact, saliva is one of your body's main defences against organisms that cause disease.
There are antibodies in our saliva that attack viral pathogens such as the common cold and even HIV. Saliva also contains enzymes which destroy bacteria in numerous ways - for instance, by disrupting vital bacterial enzyme systems. degrading bacterial membranes, and inhibiting the growth and metabolism of some bacteria.
It's easy for most people to keep their salivary flow healthy. Staying hydrated is key. Always drink plenty of water throughout the day to 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 have periodontitis, simply undergoing a dental treatment or just brushing your teeth can provide a port of entry for the abundant bacteria in your mouth to enter 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.
Infective endocarditis, which is when oral bacteria enter the bloodstream and stick to the lining of diseased heart valves, is an example of this.
Dental Plaque’s Link to Common Conditions
Having a healthy mouth may help you ward off certain diseases and medical problems such as stroke, heart attack, 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.