Brushing your teeth every day is necessary to keep your oral cavity and everything that resides there healthy. It prevents cavities from forming in the teeth. But there are many other reasons why good oral hygiene is essential. In fact, the health of your mouth says a lot about the health of the rest of your body. And more than that, it has an important influence on it!
Before we go into the reasons why good dental hygiene is necessary, we must first freshen up on what optimal dental and oral care entails:
- Brush twice a day for two minutes
- Dry your toothbrush thoroughly after use and replace every 3 to 4 months
- Keep the space between the teeth clean with a rag (special brush for interdental cleaning) or with floss wire, preferably in the evening
- Perform dental check-ups every six months
- In between brush, you can clean your teeth by chewing on sugar-free chewing gum.
If you follow all these precautions and maintenance measures closely, you are guaranteed to suffer less from cavities or plaque. But that’s just the beginning of the reward, because good oral hygiene is also beneficial for your overall body. A lack of care, on the other hand, can have serious complications: rheumatism, diabetes and even obesity would all be associated with it to a greater or lesser extent.
Diabetes patients should be extremely careful when it comes to oral care: high glucose levels can lead to dry mouth and that promotes the formation of cavities or other oral disorders. Diabetes can also encourage gum disease. In turn, gum disease can negatively affect diabetes due to an excess of bacteria. A kind of vicious circle for which you as a diabetes patient must be very alert. If you are at risk or need to be careful with sugar, it is therefore best to floss your teeth regularly. Or keep sugar-free chewing gum handy during the day to stop bad bacteria from nesting on and between your teeth.
Healthy teeth and a healthy tongue help to keep your bone system strong, especially the bones in the vicinity of your mouth (for example, the jawbones). An excess of mouth bacteria can lead to damage to the connective tissue that holds the teeth in place. And if those bacteria are constantly swallowed, they can also weaken your body’s immune system. Osteoporosis or other diseases related to the bone system are also linked to poor oral hygiene.
An excess of bacteria in the mouth can also be a hotbed for pathogens or germs associated with clogging arteries and arteriosclerosis. When the bacteria enter the bloodstream, they form an ‘arterial plaque’ in those veins. This is responsible for an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Keeping your oral health in top shape at a younger age is insurance for your brain in old age. People with mouth infections are more likely to deteriorate cognitively than people with healthy mouths. They run the risk of their brains deteriorating faster. Studies show that gum disease, such as periodontitis, which is due to poor oral hygiene, increases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other brain disorders later in life.
The School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Central Lancashire examined brain samples from people with and without dementia. In the brains of the dementia patients, they found residual products of a bacterium that indicates chronic periodontitis.
Bacteria present due to poor oral hygiene and periodontitis can cause pneumonia.
Plaque, gingivitis and periodontitis
Plaque is a soft and sticky layer on the teeth and molars that can calcify into solid tartar on which a new layer of plaque is formed. Plaque contains bacteria that cause inflammation of the gums or ‘gingivitis’. An alarm signal for gingivitis is bleeding gums.
If this gum disease spreads from the edge of the gums to the depth, to the jaw bone that surrounds the teeth and molars, the gums release. For example, new plaque forms, deeper on the jaw bone around the teeth, and that causes a deeper inflammation. As a result, the fibers of the gums break down and at a further stage the jaw bone is also broken down. In that case, we speak of periodontitis.
Some people have more predisposition to periodontitis than others.
- Smokers: periodontitis is more common in smokers and also in a more severe form than in non-smokers. They also do not respond as well to their treatment.
- Diabetes patients: see above.
- People with a stressful job or life: psychological stress can suppress the body’s immune system, which in turn leads to an increased risk of periodontitis.
- Pregnancy and drug use can also have an impact.
It is obvious that good oral health is important not only for your teeth, but for your entire body. So it is certainly worth investing a few minutes of your time daily in the care of your teeth and to ensure optimal oral hygiene.