A Pretty Smile Never Goes Out of Style

Last week, we delved into why it’s important to take care of your skin and hair; with both impacting your overall health.  Today we are discussing how important it is to take care of your teeth, gums, and mouth.

Having a good oral hygiene routine helps maintain your overall health.  Your teeth are the first step in your digestion process.  They break down the foods you eat so it is easier for your stomach to digest them.  When you have good oral hygiene habits, your teeth remain durable and strong and help keep their functionality in the process of digestion.  Bad oral hygiene can cause cavities, tooth loss/decay, infected gums, and bad breath.  All of these affect how well you are able to eat good, nutrient rich food that your whole body needs.

Many diseases and conditions have symptoms that show in your mouth.  These signs can tell doctors what is going on throughout the rest of your body.  The mouth is the viewpoint for identifying early signs and symptoms of systemic disease, which are diseases that affect your whole body not just one area.  Systemic diseases are often first noticed in your mouth as lesions or other oral problems.

Saliva has begun to replace blood testing to ascertain disease, abnormalities, and other problems with your overall health.  It can be tested for a variety of substances and conditions including:  stress responses in newborns, certain cancers, bone density, etc.  One of the first defense mechanisms our body has is our saliva which fights disease causing organisms, from bacteria and viruses, from entering our body.  It contains antibodies that fight viral pathogens known to cause the common cold and HIV, among others, and also contains enzymes which help to destroy the bacteria in our mouths that are not supposed to be there.

Your mouth contains a lot of harmless bacteria that actually aids in the cleaning and digesting process, but if you don’t floss and brush daily, the bacteria that isn’t supposed to be in your mouth will attach itself to the area between your gums and teeth.  This is called plaque and if left untreated can cause the disease known as gingivitis, which can severely damage your teeth and gums, causing problems throughout the rest of your body.

So why is good oral health paramount to our overall health?  Well, gum disease has been shown to increase incidences of pre-term, low-birth-rate babies in women.  Poor oral hygiene routines increase your chances of serious diseases including stroke, heart attack, and poorly controlled diabetes, not to mention that mouth oral diseases are a serious threat to the rest of the organs in your body.  If your teeth are not strong and healthy, problems chewing can lead to intestinal failure, IBS, and other digestive disorders, signifying that your body will not get the proper nutrition it needs to stay healthy and fight off disease in other areas.

Good oral hygiene involves everything that keeps our mouth, teeth, and gums clean and, most importantly, healthy.  But, this doesn’t mean just brushing your teeth daily.  Below are some great tips to help you start a better oral hygiene routine.

Brush thoroughly at least twice a day.  Make sure to use a fluoride toothpaste and brush your teeth and gum area for at least two minutes.  Also, every 3-4 months replace your toothbrush.

Floss at least once a day.  Food particles can get stuck in between our teeth and by our gums which can cause bacteria to grow in those areas.  By flossing, you are able to get out that bacteria to keep it from causing gingivitis.

Eat a healthy, nutrient rich diet.  Whole foods, like grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and dairy, provide nutrients that help keep our teeth and whole body strong.  Some believe that the omega 3 fats in fish can help to lower the risks of gum disease.

Rinse or chew gum after eating.  Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash after eating can clear away and leftover food that might want to cause your teeth and gum trouble.  And chewing sugar free gum can help to increase the flow of saliva which helps to wash bacteria away naturally and neutralize acid.

Avoid sugary foods and drinks.  Bacteria in our mouths break down simple sugars (which produce acids that erode our tooth enamel, the important part of our teeth that protect them), opening us up to decay and diseases.  Gummy candies and foods stick to your tooth surface and erode the enamel away, leaving you with weak and hurtful teeth.  Carbonated drinks have an acidity that will also erode away enamel leaving you open to diseases.

Stay away from tobacco and tobacco products.  Using tobacco increases your chances of having major gum diseases and cancers.  It also stains your teeth.

VISIT YOUR DENTIST!  Your dentist can find the problems that you are not able to and can treat them before they become problematic.  Most dentists will schedule you twice a year, every 6 months, and it is important to go in to get your teeth checked and cleaned.  And most importantly, if you are having ANY pain, discomfort, or problems, it is important to immediately call your dentist and make an appointment.  Ignoring these problems will, eventually, lead to more serious complications.

 

 

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Sources: http://yoursmileyourstyle.com/oral-hygiene-important/
http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/healthy-teeth-tips
http://www.colgateprofessional.com/patient-education/articles/why-a-healthy-mouth-is-good-for-your-body
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475

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