Good oral hygiene plays an essential role in keeping your mouth healthy, preventing dental decay and gum disease. Here, our Hamilton dentists explain how a healthy mouth can contribute to better overall health and well-being.
Practicing good oral hygiene is one reasonably reliable predictor of better dental health outcomes. This means you are more likely to keep your teeth as you age if you have good oral hygiene habits. Because dental health can impact overall physical well-being, good oral hygiene practices can have a positive impact on your overall health.
Maintaining A Healthy Salivary Flow
Saliva is a useful diagnostic tool, in that it can help doctors and dentists to identify and diagnose systemic diseases before their symptoms become apparent.
In addition, saliva plays a key role in disabling 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, such as the common cold and even HIV. It also contains enzymes that destroy bacteria in a number of different ways, for instance by degrading bacterial membranes, disrupting vital bacterial enzyme systems, and inhibiting the growth and metabolism of some bacteria.
Keeping salivary flow healthy is relatively easy for most people. Adequate hydration is the key! By drinking plenty of water throughout the day you can help your body to maintain a healthy salivary flow.
Fending Off 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 can lead to a variety of health problems.
Neglecting to brush and floss thoroughly every day allows 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, 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.
If your immune system is healthy, the presence of oral bacteria in your bloodstream shouldn't cause problems. However, if your immune system 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 can go a long way in helping you ward off certain diseases and medical problems such as stroke, heart attack, complications related to diabetes, and even preterm labour.
Poorly Controlled Diabetes
Chronic gum disease has been shown in some cases to make diabetes more difficult to control. The infection could lead to insulin resistance, which can be disruptive to 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.