A thorough oral hygiene routine helps you keep your mouth healthy, preventing dental decay and gum disease. Here, our Kamloops dentists explain how a healthy mouth can contribute to better overall health and well-being.
Maintaining a thorough at home oral hygiene routine combined with regular preventive care is a reliable predictor of better dental health outcomes - including making it more likely that you will keep your natural 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 physical health.
A Healthy Salivary Flow
Saliva is a helpful diagnostic tool, in that it can allow doctors and dentists to identify and diagnose systemic diseases before their symptoms become apparent.
Your saliva works to disable bacteria and viruses before they enter your system, making it 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 numerous different ways, for instance by degrading bacterial membranes, disrupting vital bacterial enzyme systems, and inhibiting the growth and metabolism of some bacteria.
For most people, keeping salivary flow healthy is fairly easy. The key is to stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water throughout the day in order to help your body maintain a healthy salivary flow.
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 causes a variety of health problems.
If you neglect to brush and floss your teeth regularly and thoroughly, dental plaque will 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).
For people suffering from periodontitis, simply undergoing a dental treatment or brushing their teeth could provide a port of entry for the abundant oral bacteria to enter their bloodstream.
If the immune system is healthy, the presence of oral bacteria in the bloodstream shouldn't lead to any problems. However, if the immune system has been weakened, for example by a disease or by cancer treatment, oral bacteria in the bloodstream may lead to an infection developing in another part of the body.
One example of this is infective endocarditis, which is when oral bacteria enter the bloodstream and stick to the lining of diseased heart valves.
Dental Plaque’s Link to Common Conditions
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.
Poorly Controlled Diabetes
Chronic gum disease may make diabetes more difficult to control. The infection may cause insulin resistance, which can disrupt blood sugar control.
Bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries, meaning gingivitis can 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.