How does dental hygiene affect your overall health?

Good oral hygiene helps you to keep your mouth healthy and prevent gum disease. Here, our Dartmouth dentists explain how keeping your mouth healthy can contribute to better overall well-being too.

Practicing good oral hygiene is one reasonably reliable predictor of better dental health outcomes.

This means that if you have good oral hygiene habits, you are more likely to keep good oral health as you age. Since your dental health can impact your overall physical health too, good oral hygiene practices can have a positive impact on your overall health.

A Healthy Salivary Flow

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.

In addition, saliva can help disable 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 and contain enzymes that fight bacteria in a number of different ways by inhibiting these invaders' growth, degrading their cellular integrity and preventing their further movement into your body.

Keeping your salivary flow healthy is quite easy for most people. The key is to stay hydrated! Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain a healthy salivary flow.

Dental Plaque & Infection

Your mouth houses hundreds of species of bacteria that constantly form a dental plaque. This is a colourless and sticky film that clings to your teeth and can cause a number of health issues.

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 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 you have a healthy immune system, the presence of oral bacteria in your bloodstream won't cause problems themselves. But if your immune system is weakened by a disease or cancer treatment, oral bacteria in your bloodstream may cause you to develop an infection in a completely different 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

A healthy mouth may help you to ward off certain diseases and medical issues like strokes, heart attacks, complications related to diabetes or 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.

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 to all of this, gum disease and tooth loss and contribute to the further development of plaques in your carotid artery. 

Your oral health can often be correlated to the overall health of your body. If you'd like advice on improving your oral hygiene routine to benefit your overall well-being, please contact our Dartmouth dentists to schedule an appointment today.

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