Good oral hygiene helps to keep your mouth healthy and to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Here, our North Sydney dentists explain how a healthy mouth can contribute to good oral and overall well-being.
Practicing good oral hygiene is one reasonably reliable predictor of better dental health outcomes.
This means that you are more likely to have a healthy smile as you age if you maintain good oral habits. Because dental health may impact your overall physical well-being, good oral hygiene practices can have a positive overall impact on your general health.
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.
In addition, saliva can help disable bacteria and viruses before they enter your system. In fact, saliva is one of your body’s main defences against disease-causing organisms.
Saliva contains antibodies that attack viral pathogens like the common cold or even HIV. It also contains enzymes that destroy bacteria in many ways, including by degrading their membranes, disrupting their systems and inhibiting their growth and metabolism.
Keeping your salivary flow healthy is quite easy for most people. The key is to stay hydrated! Make sure you 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, brushing your teeth it attending professional cleanings may provide a port of entry for the bacteria in your mouth to enter your bloodstream.
And while, when your immune system is healthy, the presence of oral bacteria in your blood won't cause problems, issues may arise if your immune system is compromised in any way. This can happen if it is weakened by disease or cancer treatment, giving oral bacteria in your bloodstream the chance to cause infection in the parts 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.