The Dangers of Poor Oral Health to Your Optimal Health
The Dangers Of Poor Oral Health To Your Optimal Health
Maintaining good oral health should be a priority for all as it may help good health overall. Poor oral health can be linked to serious health conditions.
- Having poor oral health can increase your risk of heart disease.
- Dental problems with your teeth and gums can be a warning signing of serious health conditions such as diabetes and HIV.
- Twice daily teeth brushing and flossing, plus regular dentist examinations helps maintain good oral health.
“Periodontitis, or gum disease, is another health issue that has been associated to poor oral health. This disease in pregnancy can potentially cause premature birth and newborns to be born underweight.”
Can Stress Cause Oral Health Problems?
If you have recently visited your dentist to address oral health concerns and common issues have been ruled out, stress might be the cause. In fact, stress can cause a host of tooth-related problems that should be taken seriously.
What are some common issues?
- Grinding your teeth will erode their enamel.
- One or more teeth might even break as a result.
- There is a tentative link between stress and canker sores.
“Grinding or clenching your teeth can be a sign that you’re under pressure.”
Are Poor Genes to Blame for Poor Dental Health?
Although genetics plays a part in dental health, environmental factors are as important:
- Lifestyle choices such as a high-sugar diet, smoking and oral hygiene all affect your dental health as much as genetics.
- Those who are more at risk of tooth decay or gum disease due to their genes can still benefit from cleaning their teeth thoroughly and visiting the dentist regularly.
- An excellent oral care routine can be more influential than your genes.
“Oral health issues aren’t attributable to a single gene but rather are the result of a combination of your genetics and your environment”
Dental Health Affects Your Heart Health
Dental health is connected to general health. Poor dental health and gum disease can increase the risk of heart disease due to bacteria that circulates in the bloodstream, causing inflammation.
- Gum disease can be prevented or reversed by good oral hygiene and regular examination by your dentist.
- Smoking encourages bad bacteria and increases the risk of gum disease.
- If you eat a lot of sugar or acidic foods, drink water to rinse your mouth and teeth afterwards.
Brushing twice a day can help prevent gum disease and keep your heart healthy too.
What You Need to Know about Alcohol and Your Oral Health
If you enjoy alcohol you should take extra care of your oral health as alcohol increases the risks of tooth decay and oral cancers.
- Sip water alongside alcohol to prevent dry mouth and dehydration.
- Wait 30 minutes before brushing teeth after alcohol to prevent further enamel erosion.
- Brush twice a day and have regular check-ups with your dentist.
The sugars and dehydrating effects of alcohol can have an impact on your oral health, so take extra care when you drink it.
Oral Cancer Symptoms and Treatments
The Mouth Cancer Foundation, one of the country’s leading head and neck cancer charities, looks at the possible reasons for the disease’s escalating statistics There is no getting away from it, head and neck cancers are on the rise and they are still being detected late.
Oral cancer was once a disease that affected the elderly, mostly male, smokers and drinkers. In the 1990s, the ratio of male to female victims was 5:1. Of all the diagnosed oral cancer cases, 87% affect those over the age of 40. However, the tables are turning and, today, the disease is killing more women; the ratio is now 2:1 and affecting younger people.
Around 60,000 people in the UK will be diagnosed with mouth cancer in the next decade. According to Cancer Research UK, more than 7,700 people in the UK were diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2011. Despite treatment, 50% of these patients presently die from oral cancer within five years of being diagnosed. However, with early detection, referral and intervention, survival rates can increase to closer to 90%.
Of course, not getting mouth cancer is the ideal, and risky lifestyle habits should be avoided. Tobacco use is still considered the main cause of mouth cancer. According to the World Health Organization, up to half of current smokers will die of a tobacco-related illness – including mouth cancer.
In Asian communities, the traditional use of chewing betel quid (often with tobacco) is an additional risk factor. Drinking alcohol to excess can increase the risk of mouth cancer by four times.
Those who smoke and drink are up to 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer. These habits are often associated with a poor diet, which is linked to a third of all cancer cases.
An increasing number of cases are now caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is transmitted through oral sex. It is thought that HPV could overtake tobacco and alcohol as the main risk factor within the coming decade.
Signs and symptoms
In the very early stages, mouth cancers are hard to detect, as they are almost invisible and often painless. It is important that you and your patients are aware of the general signs and symptoms of mouth cancer, as follows:
- Sores, ulcers or white or red patches anywhere in the mouth that do not heal within three weeks
- Lumps or swellings anywhere in the mouth, jaw or neck that persist for more than three weeks
- Difficulty in swallowing, chewing or moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth
- A feeling that something is caught in the throat
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness that persists for more than six weeks
- An unexplained loosening of teeth with no dental cause.
Dentists and dental care professionals play a key role in the early detection of oral cancer. They have a professional and ethical duty of care to screen every patient during a dental check-up and provide advice on a healthy lifestyle.
However, the general public should also be checking themselves to help fight the battle against mouth cancers. Launched in September 2015 by Dr Dawn Harper, Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies GP, the Mouth Cancer Foundation’s latest campaign, Bite Back at Mouth Cancer, encourages members of the general public to check their mouths for cancer once a month.
By providing a simple head and neck cancer check, which can be carried out by anyone at home, at any time, the campaign aims to show members of the public what to look for. It also explains how to seek help if they find something out of the ordinary. This will allow head and neck cancers to be caught earlier, which will save lives.
The Threat to Overall Health from Dental Emergencies
In a rare occasion, you can experience a dental emergency which requires immediate attention. By not seeking treatment straight away it risks further serious health problems.
- An infection is one of the possible reasons for intense pain in a tooth or in the jaw.
- Bleeding which cannot be halted, even after applying pressure, could be due to a deep wound in the mouth.
- A tooth which has been knocked out should always be taken immediately to a dentist, as speed is of the essence in whether it can be replaced.
“Without immediate treatment, a problem with your teeth or gums could quickly become a major threat to your overall health.”
Misaligned Teeth and Dental Health
Misaligned teeth can be due to family genetics or have other causes such as thumb-sucking during childhood. Whatever the reason, any misalignment will not only impact the child’s confidence but can also give rise to other dental disorders.
Because the teeth may be crowded, overlapping or out of position it can mean:
- Bacteria, plaque and food debris may not be removed efficiently
- Teeth grinding (bruxism) is more likely to be a problem
- The jawbone is under more pressure and jaw problems can occur
Crooked or misaligned teeth can also increase the risk for gum disease so treatment by your dentist is essential in correcting the problem before it worsens.
Is Vaping Dangerous to Your Oral Health?
Many individuals consider vaping to represent a safe alternative to cigarettes due to the lower levels of carcinogens. However, did you know that the dentist will recommend that this habit should be ceased? Vaping can cause serious issues with the teeth and gums.
Three important factors which are often present include:
- Increased chances of tooth loss, decay, and cavities.
- Less blood flow to the gums as a result of nicotine.
- Weakened tooth enamel over time.
“The dangerous effects of nicotine on gum tissue are well known.”
The Link Between Hydration and a Healthy Smile
We already know that regular trips to the dentist — and brushing our teeth — are the best ways to prevent issues such as cavities and gum disease. However, were you aware that drinking plenty of water is also recommended?
Here are three oral health benefits associated with water:
- Water helps to eliminate food particles from the oral cavity.
- Your saliva will be replenished through hydration.
- Tap water with fluorine can help to strengthen the enamel of your teeth.
“Water is essential for keeping you hydrated and helping your body perform many of its vital functions.”
Sugar and Healthy Teeth
The sugars contained in sweets, snacks and fizzy drinks turns to acid in the mouth. This is why any good dentist will recommend reducing or cutting out these treats. If these acids are not removed properly, they will erode tooth enamel and this will in turn lead to other dental issues including:
- Discoloured teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
It is not necessary to cut out snacks and fizzy drinks entirely but they should only be enjoyed in moderation. Drinking water can be of great benefit as, quite often, the body signals that you are hungry when really you are thirsty — and a glass of water is enough to satisfy any hunger pangs.
Keep fruits available as a healthy snack, instead of sugary treats. Chew sugarless gum when you have cravings.
Five Ways You Can Improve Your Oral Hygiene
Make sure you’re brushing for two minutes This might sound obvious, but many of us are rushing brushing and not effectively cleaning all the surfaces of our teeth. There are many ways to ensure you clean for the recommended two minutes, from dedicated phone apps to stopwatches, but one of our favourite ways to pass the time is to use a song around the two-minute mark to measure how much time has passed.
Flossing is one of the most popular ways that we clean between our teeth, but the proper technique is still a mystery to many.
To effectively clean the surfaces between your teeth, you need to first wrap a piece of floss around your index and middle finger, before wrapping the middle section around the back of a tooth to create a horseshoe shape.
Then, simply move the floss backwards and forwards as well as up and down each tooth.
This should help to remove plaque and food debris from between your teeth, helping to reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
There are other methods of cleaning between your teeth which you may prefer, such as interdental brushes or a water flosser.
The important thing is to make sure that you clean between your teeth at least once a day, in order to remove plaque and food debris.
Spit, don’t rinse
Rinsing your mouth out with water after brushing can wash away all of the protective elements of the toothpaste you’ve just used, including the fluoride which helps to prevent tooth decay.
It’s much better to spit after brushing, as this allows the ingredients in the toothpaste to work their magic on the surfaces of your teeth.
Use a fluoride toothpaste
Fluoride plays a key role in the health of your teeth and has been proven to reduce plaque and help to protect the mouth from tooth decay.
Using a fluoride toothpaste every day as a part of your daily oral health routine is still one of the most effective methods of helping to reduce your risk of tooth-decay.
Visit your hygienist as often as recommended
By taking a proactive approach to looking after your teeth in your everyday life, you can help to avoid costly and invasive dental procedures later on.
One of the best ways to look after your oral health, in addition to brushing at home and routine dental visits, is regular trips to your dental hygienist.
Hygienists are specially trained in preventive oral care and, in addition to cleaning your teeth and gums, they will also be able to help you create a tailor-made dental hygiene routine.
This can include recommending specific treatments and products for you to implement, helping to make sure that you’re taking the best possible care of your teeth on a day-to-day basis.
If you like to have your teeth cleaned regularly by a dental professional for a clean and natural smile, are quitting smoking, or have had a dental implant, our Hygiene Plan helps you to receive regular time with a dental hygienist and makes treatment more affordable with simple monthly payments.
Easy Ways to Keep Teeth and Gums Healthy
Now that oral health has been shown to impact your overall health, it’s even more important to keep your mouth in good condition:
- As well as brushing twice daily with soft-bristled toothbrush, floss once a day as well to ensure all trapped food particles are removed.
- Antibacterial mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine can reduce plaque and gingivitis as well as prevent bad breath.
- Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and to spot any problems early so they can be treated right away.
“The dentist will check for visual signs of cavities, gum disease, mouth cancer, and other oral health issues.”
Healthy Snacks for Teeth
Snacking between meals is generally frowned upon but eating the right foods as a quick snack can actually be of benefit to teeth. Fruits and vegetables are not just good for the body but are also beneficial to oral health.
Fruit is always a good option as it contains:
- Natural sugars
- High water content
A mixed fruit salad comprising grapes, peaches, kiwi fruit, pineapple, cherries and strawberries are not just delicious but also a “healthy snack for your teeth” and certain to meet the approval of your dentist.
Infographic: Keep Your Smile Healthy Everyday
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