What Are the Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene?
Do you consider yourself to be healthy? Did you know that your smile is one of measures of your overall health? The fact is that the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums can affect the rest of your body. In some cases, problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body.
Here’s what you need to know about the intimate connection between oral health and overall health and the benefits of good oral hygiene.
The human body is home to a vast population of bacteria. In a state of good health, these microorganisms live in a symbiotic relationship. Your mouth is no exception. Estimates of the number of bacterial species in the oral cavity vary between 500 to 650 different species. The majority of these bacteria help in critical body processes (i.e. the first stage of digestion) as well as in protecting your body from foreign pathogens. However, without proper oral hygiene (brushing and flossing), bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Without adequate oral hygiene, a sticky pale yellow film of microorganisms accumulates on our teeth. This build-up is called dental plaque. If left unremoved, this combination will irritate and inflame the gum tissue, causing clinical signs of red, swollen and bleeding gums. These bacteria now have the capability to cause the infection better known as gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease.
When left untreated gingivitis advances to periodontitis, which is a more severe stage of gum disease. Periodontitis is a condition that affects millions of people every day. Though it seems minor at the start, it can significantly affect your health. One of the distinguishable characteristics of poor oral hygiene is bad breath… aka HALITOSIS.
Good Oral Hygiene
Good dental habits are crucial to keeping periodontal disease at bay. You can practice good oral hygiene at home:
- Brush for two to three minutes, at least twice a day, with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if bristles are frayed at the sides/ends.
- Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Eat a healthy diet to provide the nutrients necessary (vitamins A and C, in particular) to prevent gum disease.
- Schedule regular dental checkups. It’s the surest way to detect early signs of periodontal disease and other issues.
Do you have questions about your oral health? Want more information on the causes and symptoms of periodontal disease? Click here for my patient guide.
Remember, beautiful teeth are healthy teeth!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry, which is at the heart of this Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. If you have questions about gum disease, contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment. Find out how he can help you maintain your healthy smile.