Surprisingly, what’s happening in your mouth has a huge impact on your general wellness. Good oral hygiene can prevent more than a toothache.
Did you know that the state of your mouth says a lot about your overall health? Decades of research have shown there’s a strong link between oral health and overall wellness.
For instance, gum disease is a big warning sign that you may also have increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Dental problems, therefore, can be the first sign that you may have serious health problems.
Your mouth is an entry point for bacteria, meaning taking good care of it can reduce your chances of getting an infection. Bacteria from infections in the mouth such as gum disease and gingivitis can enter your bloodstream and travel further afield to major organs such as the heart or brain. Scientists have linked this process with serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
The cosmetic side of oral hygiene is important, too. Unsightly decay and staining can have an effect on confidence and self-esteem, which can contribute to anxiety and depression.
You may already know that you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day to avoid problems, however, caring for your teeth takes more than simply brushing.
It’s vitally important to practice good oral hygiene, and it needn’t be complicated.
There are just four important things to remember to keep your mouth in great condition:
1. Brush and floss daily
The importance of keeping your teeth clean can’t be understated. Keep those teeth sparklingly clean, and you’ll prevent a whole lot of problems further down the line.
Good oral hygiene helps keep bacteria levels lower, meaning infections and problems like gum disease are less likely. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time, making sure you’ve brushed the surfaces of all your teeth.
However, brushing only does part of the job. Flossing to remove food hiding between teeth is just as important and should definitely be part of your daily oral care routine.
2. Visit your dentist regularly
Seeing your dentist regularly means they’ll be better able to advise you how best to look after your teeth. Drop by the dental clinic at least twice in a year and get your teeth and gums checked and cleaned.
Your dentist will be able to spot any developing problems, perhaps before you’ve even noticed anything wrong. He/she can then treat the problem before it becomes a major issue.
Your dentist will also be able to link your oral health with potential issues with your overall health, too. If your dentist urges you to see a doctor after taking a look in your mouth, make sure you attend to it to prevent potential health problems from getting serious.
Remember, following advice and receiving preventative dentistry procedures are key to optimum oral health.
3. Maintain a mouth-friendly diet
Sugar is a major source of tooth decay. It would be great news for your teeth if you were to cut down on sweets, chocolate, and sugary drinks. Even if you don’t tend to indulge in these kinds of products, it may be worth checking the labelling on your favourite foods.
People are sometimes surprised to find out just how much sugar they’re consuming without realizing it. When the label says 20 grams of sugar per serving, that means you are taking in five teaspoons of it because four grams of sugar equal a teaspoon.
The best diet for great oral health is low in sugar and high in foods that contain calcium. Good sources of calcium include unsweetened milk, plain yogurt, and cheese. Crunchy raw vegetables are great for your teeth, too. They provide lots of good nutrients and help dislodge other food particles from your teeth as you eat.
Avoid stains and general discolouring by limiting your coffee and red wine intake. Some teas and large amounts of spicy foods can also have an effect on the colour of your teeth.
4. Rinse your mouth after meals, but don’t brush
Rinse away leftover food from your mouth after meals with mouthwash, or just a plain glass of water. This will minimise the amount of food sitting in your mouth for hours after you finish eating. Sugar-free gum does a great job of clearing your mouth, too, by increasing saliva flow that will wash away leftovers.
Rinsing or chewing is enough; you shouldn’t brush straightway after a meal. The acid in food and drink temporarily weakens the protective layer of enamel on the teeth. Saliva can neutralise this acid given enough time, but brushing before it has done its job can mean brushing away the enamel as well.
Taking these four steps into consideration and ensuring they are part of your oral care routine means that you can be confident your mouth will stay healthy, and that your overall wellness will not be impacted by poor oral hygiene.
Dr. Yvette Porter is the founding dentist at Apple Dental in Newstead, Brisbane, which she started over 11 years ago, and continues to own and practice there today. She works with a team of female dentists who aim to provide gentle, and affordable dental care to patients in Brisbane. Dr. Porter is a member of the Australian Dental Association and is passionate about family, and children’s dentistry, hoping to make their dental experience truly pleasant.