How taking care of your teeth will improve your health

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Oral Health is Overall Health

Did you know your oral health offers clues about your overall health -- or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body?

Today you will find out how to protect yourself by learning more about the connection between your oral health and overall health.

 

Connection between oral and overall health…

Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Normally the body's natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

 

Tooth Decay

  • Cavities in older adults appear more frequently on the roots of the teeth at the gum line.

  • Years of brushing too hard and the natural effects of aging can cause gums to recede, exposing the roots.

  • Decay is caused by bacteria (plaque). Reduce cavities by brushing and flossing daily as well as decreasing foods and beverages high in sugar.

Gum Disease

  • Gum disease is one of the most common diseases in humans

  • Over time, the buildup of bacteria on the teeth causes inflammation of the gums that can spread to underlying bone and lead to tooth loss.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

  1. Swollen bleeding gums

  2. Loose or shifted teeth

  3. Bad breath

  4. Gum recession

Health Conditions linked to Poor Oral Health

Many chronic health conditions can be linked back to poor oral health according to recent studies. Here are a few examples.

1. Dementia

Dementia can result from gingivitis; when bacteria from the mouth spreads to the nerves or enters the bloodstream and can kill brain cells and lead to memory loss.

2. Respiratory Infections

Bacteria from infected teeth and gums can travel though the blood stream and can lead to pneumonia, acute bronchitis , and even COPD.

3. Diabetes

It is especially important for diabetics to take good care of their oral health to prevent complications as they are already more susceptible to infections.

4. Cancer

5. Kidney Disease

6. Rheumatoid Arthritis

 

Risk Factors for Older Adults

  • Receding gums – exposed roots are vulnerable to decay

  • Dry mouth – a common side effect of certain medications. Saliva plays an important role in protecting our teeth by washing away food and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth.

  • Limited mobility – health challenges can create obstacles for maintaining good oral hygiene, visiting a dental office, or tolerating treatment.

Prevention and Maintenance

Now that we have covered poor oral health and the risks it carries; let’s arm ourselves with how to have healthy teeth and gums.

1. Proper Nutrition

Eating a healthy diet following Canada’s Food Guide is important for both oral and overall health at any age. 

2. Daily Hygiene

Brush – Floss – Rinse - dentists and dental hygienists recommend twice a day.

 3. Dental Hygiene Visits

Ensure you are having your natural teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis

 4. Denture Care

Proper care of dentures can extend their life and contribute to a healthy mouth

5. Dental Implants

An implant should be treated like a natural tooth but since it is not as strong it is important to brush and floss gently.

6. Oral Cancer Screening

Dental hygienists are trained to perform regular screenings for oral cancer. It is always important to report any changes to a dental professional. Symptoms such as: red/white patches, sores, and swelling to tissues. Major indicators of throat cancer are difficulty swallowing and/or changes in voice.

 

Be Proactive

Oral health is an indicator of overall health. Taking care of your teeth and gums can go a long way toward decreasing the risk of more serious health problems in the body. If you have any concerns about your oral health make an appointment with your dental hygienist.