How does dental hygiene affect your overall health?

When it comes to protecting your dental health, good oral hygiene is always the first step. Here, our Tweed dentists talk about ways that your dental hygiene can have an effect on your overall oral health.

Practicing good oral hygiene is one reasonably reliable predictor of better dental health outcomes. This means that there is a direct correlation between good oral hygiene and keeping your teeth as you age. Because dental health can impact overall physical well-being, good oral hygiene practices can have a positive impact on your overall health.

Your Body Makes Enough Saliva

Saliva is a helpful diagnostic tool, in that it can help doctors and dentists to identify and diagnose systemic diseases before their symptoms become apparent.

Saliva is a great first defence against unhealthy bacteria that may attempt to enter your body. 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 several different ways, for instance by degrading bacterial membranes, disrupting vital bacterial enzyme systems, and inhibiting the growth and metabolism of some bacteria.

The easiest way to increase your salivary flow is to drink more water! Make sure that you stay thoroughly hydrated.

The Effect of Bacteria on Your Health

Plaque buildup occurs when you've been eating or drinking and you haven't been brushing away the bacteria that starts to build up. Did you know that there are over 500 types of bacteria that are in your mouth that contribute to plaque?

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 (gum 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 is another example of when oral bacteria enter the bloodstream where they stick to the lining of diseased heart valves.

How Plaque Contributes to the Decline of Your Health

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.

Untreated Diabetes

Chronic gum disease may make diabetes more difficult to control. The infection may cause insulin resistance, which can disrupt blood sugar control.

Cardiovascular Disease

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.

If you would like to learn more about how your oral health can affect your body, please contact our Tweed dentists to request an appointment today.

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