How Proper Oral Hygiene May Improve Overall Health

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How Proper Oral Hygiene May Improve Overall Health

The state of your oral health is often a reflection of your overall health. Unfortunately, the oral health connection is typically not acknowledged by traditional dentists. A doctor of complete health dentistry can treat your general dental concerns while considering your overall health.
Complete health dentistry is available at Thunderbird Dental Studio in Peoria and in the surrounding area. We want to help you be the healthiest you can be.

father and son brushing their teeth looking at the camera

The Oral Health Connection

The teeth are connected to the jaw bone in the face through the tooth’s roots. These roots are deeply ingrained in the bone to provide structure and strength to the mouth, which is important for biting, chewing, and speaking. Without an oral hygiene routine, the teeth risk the buildup of bacteria, otherwise known as tartar and plaque. This appears as a yellowish buildup on the teeth around the gum line.
Over time, if someone does not brush, floss, and rinse at home regularly and maintain their regular dental checkups, this buildup can start to affect the smile. If left alone, the bacteria can get beneath the gums and create dental pockets. These pockets occur when the gum tissue starts to pull away from the teeth. This may also cause gum recession, which may eventually expose the tooth roots. If the bacteria have access to the roots beneath the gum line, they may gain access to the body's bloodstream.


The Oral Health Connection

According to WebMD, the mouth acts as an entryway to the digestive and respiratory tracts. It is a natural breeding ground for bacteria. Most of these are harmless and can be kept under control with proper oral health care and the body’s natural defenses. However, without appropriate maintenance, disease-causing bacteria may accumulate over time.

Dental Health and Heart Health

It has been a long-established fact that there is a relationship between gum disease and heart disease. However, experts have yet to determine whether or not this is a causal relationship. In any case, existing research suggests that clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke are associated with the inflammation and infections usually accompanied by dental bacteria.

Dental Health and Diabetes

Dental health and diabetes have a bidirectional relationship, meaning they both affect each other directly. Diabetes reduces the body’s ability to resist infection, making patients more at risk of developing gum disease. At the same time, those with gum disease tend to have more difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels.


Dental Health and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become less dense and more brittle. It can affect any bone in the body, and research suggests an existing relationship between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Once the jawbone loses enough density, it is not uncommon for tooth loss to occur.

Dental Health and Pregnancy

Pregnant women are at significantly higher risk for periodontal disease and cavities. These phenomena can occur due to changes in behavior, hormone levels, and diet. Furthermore, certain dental health issues may lead to pregnancy complications, such as premature birth.

Dental Health and Other Conditions

Aside from heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy, and osteoporosis, there are many other conditions linked to dental health. These include but are not limited to pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjorgen’s syndrome. Patients need to be as open and honest as possible with their complete health dentistry doctor, as certain conditions or even recent bouts of illness may affect the type of dental care they need.


Maintaining Oral Hygiene at Home

Nothing can replace the expertise of a complete health dentistry doctor. Keeping regular appointments is crucial to maintaining oral health, especially since each patient requires personalized care. Luckily, there are many things patients can do on their own to take care of their teeth.
Patients should brush their teeth at least twice a day: once in the morning and once before bedtime. Germs and plaque accumulate throughout the day and should be removed whenever possible. It is essential to use proper technique while brushing and to remember to include the tongue. Using a fluoride toothpaste will also offer extra protection against tooth decay.
Flossing should be treated with the same importance as brushing, as it can help stimulate the gums while reducing plaque and inflammation. Those who have trouble using dental floss may want to look for alternatives, such as ready-to-use flossers. Swishing with a good quality mouthwash afterward also helps, as does drinking water, eating crunchy fruits and vegetables, and limiting sugary and acidic foods.


FAQ's About Oral Health

father and daughter flossing their teeth looking at each other
  • Can treating my gum disease alleviate the symptoms of my other conditions?

    It depends on what those other conditions are. However, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis have both been proven to have bidirectional relationships with oral health. In other words, treating one will effectively treat the other.

  • Can rheumatoid arthritis cause any dental problems other than periodontal disease?

    Yes. Rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of oral infections, both bacterial and fungal. Additionally, it may contribute to loss of motion in the temporomandibular joint.

  • How is periodontal disease linked to chronic inflammation?

    Periodontal disease is often caused by ongoing gum inflammation. When this happens, pockets eventually develop between the gums and teeth. These pockets fill with plaque, tartar, and bacteria, becoming deeper over time. Chronic inflammation elsewhere in the body can also strain the immune system.

  • What are the risk factors for developing periodontal disease?

    As we can see, some people are more susceptible to periodontal disease than others. Throughout this page, we have already mentioned diabetes, pregnancy, and osteoporosis. Lifestyle choices and oral hygiene habits may also contribute. For example, tobacco use, certain medications, poor nutrition, and clenching/grinding the teeth can heighten one’s risk. Other risk factors are out of one’s control, such as age, genetics, stress, or other systemic diseases.

  • What causes gum disease?

    Gum disease usually starts off with a buildup of excess plaque which, if left undisturbed, eventually turns to tartar under the gumline. It will then develop into a mild form of gum disease known as gingivitis before later progressing into periodontitis, a more severe form of the disease.