What is oral health?
Contrary to common beliefs, our oral health goes much beyond just our teeth. Oral care and health involve the condition of our teeth, gums, and tongue i.e. the entire mouth area. Not only this, oral care and health also have a direct impact on several important activities like speaking, tasting, chewing, swallowing, smiling, and so much more.
How do poor oral health care and hygiene affect our health?
Our mouth is intrinsically connected to the rest of the body and serves as the entry point to our respiratory tract and digestive organs. This makes taking care of our oral hygiene even more critical. Any bacteria residing in our mouth can easily get into the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body. Not maintaining a good oral care regime may lead to these complications:
- Poor dental health is the first complication of not maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. You may experience bad breath, cavities, decay, mouth sores, eroded enamel, tooth sensitivity, toothache, etc. In more severe cases, neglected oral care may result in mouth cancer.
- A poor oral care routine leads to the spread of bacteria in the nerve channels through the bloodstream. This leads to the destruction of brain cells and may cause memory loss issues, dementia, and Alzheimers in more serious cases.
- Bacteria from infected teeth due to poor oral care may enter your lungs through the breath or the bloodstream. This can cause pneumonia, bronchitis, COPD, etc.
- Gum diseases can lead to a spike in your blood sugar levels. This not only increases your predisposition to diabetes but also makes its management difficult.
- People who have poor oral care may experience poor immunity.
- People who chew tobacco or smoke are not only at the risk of mouth cancer, but also cancers of the blood, pancreas, kidney, etc.
- Poor oral care and dental diseases may lead to difficulties in conceiving and unhealthy pregnancies.
What are the symptoms of poor oral health?
There are several indicators of poor oral hygiene. These include:
- Recurrent toothaches
- Pain while chewing
- Chronic bad breath
- Swelling in the neck region or the face
- Ulcers or sores in the mouth
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding in the gums
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
- Loose teeth
- Dry mouth
- Broken or cracked teeth
- Clicking of the jaw
What affects our oral health?
There is a reason why it is said that our mouth that includes healthy teeth and gums is the window to our health and our nutrition levels. General physicians often check your dental health to assess if you are suffering from any specific health issues or nutritional deficiencies. Here are some of the most common causes that contribute to oral diseases:
- Poor mouth care habits like not brushing the teeth and the tongue regularly and skipping flossing.
- Use of tobacco
- Frequent consumption of sugary and sticky foods
- Hormonal changes
- Family history
- Using medicines that reduce the amount of saliva
How are oral health problems treated?
Depending on the above-mentioned oral problem that you suffer from and the extent of damage that it has caused, your dentist at the oral health centre may suggest any of these treatments:
- Your dentist may advise professional cleaning of the teeth twice a year to help remove the plaque and tartar build-up that we miss during brushing. This involves the use of a high-powered toothbrush and scaling to deep clean the mouth.
- You may be advised antibiotics if you are diagnosed with gum infections.
- Your dental health care practitioner may give you a fluoride treatment to strengthen the enamel to make it less prone to acids and bacteria.
- If your dentist suspects nutritional deficiencies to be the cause of your dental problems, you may be advised by a vitamin screening test. This helps in improving your nutrition through your diet or supplements.
- In case your oral problems have advanced, you may be advised surgical options like bone grafting, tooth extraction, root canal surgery, dental implants, flap surgery, etc.
- In case your dentist suspects diabetes to be the cause, he may advise you of a diabetes screening test for a proper evaluation and further treatment.
- In case rheumatoid arthritis is suspected to be the cause of inflammations and frequent infections in your case, you may be referred to a rheumatologist for an accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
How to maintain good oral health?
Now that we know the risk factors and complications that can arise from poor oral care practices, here are some tips on not only how to take the best care of the teeth but also the entire mouth area:
- We all know how important brushing is for taking proper care of the teeth, yet we tend to miss it at times. Besides brushing at least twice a day, brushing properly is very critical. Take 20-30 seconds to brush in gentle circular movements to remove the hidden plaque and tartar from the teeth and the gums.
- Cleaning your tongue off plaque is very important for good oral care.
- Flossing regularly is imperative for teeth caring. This helps in getting off those tiny particles stuck between your teeth that the brush cannot remove. This also helps in plaque reduction and preventing inflammation.
- One of the best oral care practices is to use good equipment. Use good quality toothpaste thats fluoride fortified and a soft toothbrush with angular bristles.
- Another great tip for teeth caring is to munch on crunchy fruits and vegetables. This helps in removing plaque and exercises the jaws.
- Drinking more water keeps your mouth healthy by washing away the stuck particles and layers of acids.
- Limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks to get healthy teeth. Also avoid acidic drinks like colas that erode your enamel, which leads to cavities.
- One of the most important things that let you enjoy good mouth care is getting your mouth examined at least twice a year. These oral care examinations help in catching problems at an early stage before they become larger issues.
It is good to know the symptoms of oral issues. Several online health aggregators help with dentist online consultation, which lets you get early treatment.