Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping one’s mouth clean and free of disease and other problems. Good oral hygiene is important for overall health, as it can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. Brushing and flossing regularly are the best ways to maintain good oral hygiene.
Oral hygiene is important for more than just a fresh breath.
In fact, your oral health can be a window into your general health. For example, did you know that gum disease has been linked to heart disease? Or that people with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease?
Poor oral hygiene can also lead to other problems such as cavities, infections, and even bone loss. Preventative dentistry gives you the best chance for a beautiful smile and long-lasting oral health. Hence, you should schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings with your dentist.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF DENTAL AND ORAL DISEASES?
While there are a lot of dental and oral diseases, the most common ones include:
Cavities are permanent holes that form in your teeth as a result of tooth decay. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in your mouth that produce acids that eat away at your tooth enamel. Once the enamel is gone, the bacteria can start to damage the dentin, which is the next layer down.
Oral thrush is caused by an excess of a yeast germ called candida. Women appear to be more susceptible to developing thrush than men. In men, thrush symptoms might be identical to those of a sexually transmitted disease. Male thrush symptoms include burning, itching, and others.
- Canker Sores
Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that can form on the tongue, gums, or inside of the cheek. They are usually white or yellow and have a red border. Canker sores are not contagious, but they can be painful and often reoccur. There are many possible causes of canker sores, including stress, certain foods, and mouth injuries. There is no cure for canker sores, but some treatments can help ease the pain and speed up healing.
- Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that results in inflammation of the gums. Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss.
Both conditions are caused by plaque.
- Sensitive Teeth
Tooth sensitivity can occur as a result of dental surgery, such as a root canal or cavity filling. It may also indicate dental decay or gum disease.
- Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a common problem that can have many causes. It can be a side effect of certain medications, a symptom of a medical condition, or simply due to dehydration. A dry mouth can be uncomfortable and cause problems with eating, drinking, and speaking. There are many ways to treat dry mouth, including over-the-counter products and home remedies.
- Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the tissues of the mouth or throat. It can affect any part of the oral cavity, including the lips, gums, tongue, and cheeks. Oral cancer is most often diagnosed in people over the age of 40.
- Mouth Ulcers
Mouth ulcers are small sores that can form on any of the soft tissues in your mouth, including your gums, inner cheeks, and tongue. They’re usually red and painful and can make eating and talking uncomfortable.
- Cold Sores
Also known as herpes of the mouth, cold sores can be caused due to cold weather, or if you have a viral or bacterial infection.
Leukoplakia is a white or grey patch that forms on the mucous membranes of the mouth, typically on the tongue. The cause is unknown, but it’s often linked to tobacco use and smoking.
- Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome
Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) is a condition that causes pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control chewing. The syndrome can be caused by a variety of factors, including teeth grinding, jaw clenching, injury, arthritis, and stress. Treatment for TMJ often includes a combination of self-care measures, such as ice packs and muscle relaxation exercises, and medical interventions, such as oral splints or medications.
WHAT CONDITIONS ARE LINKED TO ORAL HEALTH?
Gingivitis and periodontitis have been linked to a variety of health problems, including:
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD).
- Endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of your heart).
- Premature birth and low birth weight are examples of pregnancy complications.
Certain health conditions, on the other hand, can have a negative impact on your teeth and gums, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
If you or a loved one suffers from any of the conditions listed above, talk to your dentist about how you can improve your overall health by practicing good oral hygiene.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF POOR ORAL HYGIENE?
There are a number of warning indicators that may suggest oral health issues.
The following are the most common indications of inadequate oral hygiene:
- Gums that are bleeding.
- Tooth decay
- Chronically foul breath
- Loose teeth.
- Recession of the gums.
- Mouth ulcers that do not heal.
- Jaw inflammation.
- Gingivostomatitis, a mouth infection caused by bacteria or viruses.
HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR ORAL HEALTH?
It is estimated that over half of adults in the US and UK suffer from some form of periodontal disease, which is why taking care of your oral health is so important.
Here are some tips to help keep your mouth healthy and free from disease:
- Brush your teeth on a frequent and proper basis.
- Floss once a day.
- Make use of fluoride toothpaste.
- Use an antimicrobial mouthwash every day.
- Reduce sugar and make other lifestyle improvements (avoiding tobacco and smoking – healthier meals like veggies and keto dieting).
- Regular visits to your dentist.
- Dental implants help with oral health for the long term.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Krishma Patel is the co-founder and the superintendent pharmacist at MedsNow, an online pharmacy in the UK that provides health and wellness products and treatments, along with free online consultations.
She is passionate about showcasing the integral function community pharmacies can play in supporting the healthcare system and the NHS by providing patients with high-quality, safe, and discreet access to healthcare at their convenience. Along with being the co-founder of MedsNow, Krishma is also the director and the superintendent pharmacist of Enimed Ltd., an independent pharmacy group comprised of 32 branches.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.com.