How Oral Health can Affect YouTonya Smikal
We are taught from the time we are young to take care of our teeth and gums. Brush twice a day, floss once a day and see a dentist once or twice a year, or anytime you have a problem within your mouth. In a perfect world we would all do this and have perfectly healthy teeth and gums, right? The reality is we don’t and studies show more serious consequences than just with our teeth and gums for negligence.
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection of the mouth, specifically in the connective tissue we call our gums holding our teeth in place. You may know that the primary cause of gum disease often called gingivitis is plaque. But did you know gingivitis is only the first stage of gum disease? It can spread to other parts of your body, leading to other health issues including diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancer risks, pregnancy complications, low birth-weight babies and even dementia!
Mild gingivitis may be resolved by a better routine of brushing and flossing, a gingivitis mouthwash and daily saltwater rinses. More advanced infections, called Periodontitis, usually need to be treated by a dentist who in turn may refer you to a Periodontist as a gum specialist.
Tooth decay is another result of poor oral health. Brushing and flossing regularly will help, but there may be other contributing factors. Smoking and alcohol consumption increase your risk for tooth decay and the risk is higher if you do both. Sugar is a strong contributor to plaque which can wear down tooth enamel and eating an unbalanced unhealthy diet can cause you to not be getting enough of the nutrients your body needs to prevent tooth decay.
Tooth decay can lead to abscesses or infections within the tooth that require a root canal or even possibly an extraction. Root canals and frequently require an Endodontist, or root canal specialist. More advanced infections, such as one that goes into the bone, would require an oral surgeon, known as a Maxillofacial Surgeon.
Canker sores are small, painful lesions that can develop inside the mouth and throat and last for up to two weeks. They are not contagious and do not occur outside of the mouth, unlike cold sores. Multiple factors can contribute to canker sores, including food sensitivities or allergies, hormonal changes, stress, and trauma to the mouth. Nutritional deficiencies of B12, zinc, folic acid and iron have also been linked to the development of canker sores.
Infections in the mouth should be taken seriously due to their ability to migrate throughout the body. If you are pregnant, the unborn baby may also be adversely affected because pregnant women are more susceptible to gum disease. Pregnant women often experience pregnancy gingivitis caused by fluctuating hormone levels. Post-menopausal women may also experience bone loss which can affect their oral health.
To avoid oral health problems, regularly rinse with saltwater which brings bacteria to the surface of the gums. Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables while low in sugar and processed foods. Drinking water throughout the day not only washes away bad stuff, but also stimulates saliva production and helps prevent dry mouth. Saliva is your body’s primary natural defense against tooth decay.
Nutritional supplementation can also help maintain oral health, especially if your diet is lacking. Calcium is your teeth’s best friend and Vitamin C with bioflavonoids can help resolve bleeding gums. Vitamin D helps your body absorb Calcium, boosting bone density. Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to promote gum health and cell growth. Lysine aides against canker sores and Vitamins A and E help gum tissue to regenerate. Beta Glucan supports the body’s immune system to fight bacterial and viral infections and helps with issues of inflammation.
Practicing good dental hygiene habits not only helps you have a beautiful smile but can help you avoid some of these health issues as well.