By practicing good oral hygiene, you can prevent dental decay and gum disease and keep your mouth healthy. Today, our dentists in Ottawa explain how maintaining a healthy mouth can contribute to better general health and well-being.
We can reasonably predict better dental health outcomes for people who practice good oral hygiene. This means you'll be more likely to keep your teeth as you age if you maintain good oral hygiene habits. Since dental health cam impact general physical well-being, good oral hygiene practices can positively impact your overall health.
A Healthy Salivary Flow
You may not have thought of saliva as a helpful diagnostic tool, but it can be used by dentists and doctors to identify and diagnose systemic diseases before their symptoms become apparent.
Saliva can also help disable viruses and bacteria before they enter your system. Saliva is actually one of your body's main defences against organisms that cause disease.
In our saliva, there are antibodies that attack viral pathogens such as the common cold and even HIV. It also contains enzymes which destroy bacteria in several ways, for example by degrading bacterial membranes, disrupting vital bacterial enzyme systems, and inhibiting the growth and metabolism of some bacteria.
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.
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. Non-surgical periodontal maintenance (gum therapy) will be recommended if the disease is identified in its early stages. Otherwise, treatment methods will depend on the type and severity of the disease.
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.