Are you one of those people that fall victim to laziness when it comes to oral hygiene? Maybe you've had a long, hard day and just don't feel like brushing your teeth before going to bed. Or perhaps you don't give it much thought, and before you know, you haven't brushed or flossed your teeth in days! If this sounds like you, be mindful in what you're about to read.
The mouth is one of the dirtiest areas of the body. It's been said that the mouth harbors more bacteria than there are people on this planet, but whether that is an accurate statement or not, the mouth does host an abundance of bacteria.1 What is known, however, is that not all bacteria are bad; bacteria are needed to sustain homeostasis, but when bacteria have time to cultivate in the mouth it can lead to problems like periodontitis, a serious gum disease.2 Gum disease can complicate an already existing health issue or may even bring on a new one. It also makes for an unsightly smile.
It doesn't take long to visibly see when one's mouth lacks attention. In just a matter of days you're able to see yellow buildup of dental plaque from not brushing. And when poor oral hygiene continues, the plaque builds giving way to inflammation of the gum and eventually infection.2
Oral Hygiene and General Health
In the not so distant past, oral hygiene was not considered a factor in one's overall general health, but today, science has proven there is a strong link between the two.2
A poor oral hygiene regimen can be a bacterial breeding ground and when oral hygiene is neglected or ignored it will eventually cause periodontal disease.2 Bacterium associated with periodontitis can enter the bloodstream via bleeding gums which is what links the two together.4 Here are just a few medical conditions linked to poor oral hygiene:
- Heart disease - Bacteria in the bloodstream can travel to the heart and lead to a heart attack.2,3,4
- Endocarditis - Bacteria may find its way to the inner linings of the heart and valves which in turn, create growth pockets of bacteria. These pockets cause inflammation and infection of the inner linings of the heart. 1,5
- Stroke - There are a number of reasons why a stroke may occur - one of them is the narrowing of artery walls and another is blood clots. It is believed that oral bacteria may be a contributing factor to the arteries narrowing as well as blood clots easily forming because of the body's negative response to the bacteria in the bloodstream. 3,4
- Inflammation - Inflamed gums and bleeding may cause systemic inflammation. 4
- Rheumatoid Arthritis - It is known that periodontal disease will worsen the pain already suffered by those inflicted with this auto immune disorder.2
- Lung Condition - Those already suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and pneumonia may have their condition worsened due to an increase of bacteria in their lungs. 2
The best way to fight periodontal disease and health issues linked to oral bacteria is to have a good oral hygiene regimen. Removing plaque buildup is necessary to keeping your gums and teeth free from disease. Brush your teeth at least two times a day and floss regularly.2 If you're unsure of the correct technique to flossing, at your next visit to your dentist have the dental assistant show you the correct procedure to flossing your teeth. Moreover, it's crucial that see your dentist regularly (once or twice a year) for your checkups and cleanings. If you find you're having dental problems, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your dentist to prevent further, more severe health complications.
Brushing and flossing is the best prevention to a healthy mouth!
1. Oral health: A window to your overall health
2. Oral Health: The Mouth-Body Connection
3. Smile: Healthy teeth can save your life
4. Heart disease and oral health: role of oral bacteria in heart plaque
5. Dental Health and Endocarditis Prevention