Did you know that your oral health is closely linked to your overall health? Research has found that oral health is one of the ten leading health indicators, alongside poor nutrition, cancer, and heart disease.
Not only does oral health keep your smile shining bright, but it also improves your physical health and reduces your risk of disease. Plus, when you’re not dealing with painful dental issues or needing tooth extraction or surgical procedures, you can enjoy socializing with your loved ones and creating new memories.
Despite the importance of oral health, it’s often overlooked in health-related conversations. We hear lots about exercise and healthy diets but very little about oral hygiene.
Luckily, you’re already one step ahead by reading articles this one and learning more about oral health! Below, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about oral health and hygiene, including why they matter and how you can maintain a great oral health routine.
What is Oral Hygiene?
Oral hygiene refers to the regular practice of keeping your mouth clean. The aim of an oral hygiene routine is to maintain great mouth health and minimize the risk of dental diseases.
A basic oral hygiene routine involves brushing your teeth twice a day, although there are a number of additional steps that you might wish to take to maximize your oral health, such as using mouthwash and floss.
Why Does Your Oral Health Matter?
Failing to follow a regular oral hygiene routine can increase your risk of developing a number of oral health conditions, like gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth decay and tooth loss, and mouth cancer.
Your mouth is full of millions of beneficial bacteria that make up your oral microbiome. The bacterial species in your mouth act as a first line of defense to prevent pathogens from entering your body.
The beneficial bacteria in your oral microbiome help to break down plaque and prevent harmful bacteria from growing in your mouth. Following an effective oral hygiene routine with regular brushing and flossing supports these bacteria and enables them to thrive.
What Are the Consequences of Poor Oral Hygiene?
Your risk of developing a dental condition increases if you don’t follow an oral hygiene routine. Over time, bacterial plaques build up on the teeth and gums, eventually leading to tooth decay. Severe tooth decay may lead to cavities and tooth loss.
You’re at a higher risk of developing more serious dental conditions, like gingivitis and periodontitis, if you neglect your oral health. There are distinct differences when comparing gingivitis vs periodontitis, although both can cause tooth loss.
Poor mouth health has been associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality and the development of a range of health conditions due to its ability to increase inflammation in all areas of the body and even in the brain. Since chronic inflammation is linked to disease, it’s easy to see why mouth health and overall health are so closely linked.
In particular, oral diseases have been linked to an increased risk of:
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Complications during pregnancy
What Does a Great Oral Hygiene Routine Look Like?
A great oral hygiene regime can minimize your risk of developing oral health problems and losing teeth due to decay or infection. As we mentioned above, oral health influences other areas of your health too. So, keeping your teeth clean and your smile bright will positively impact your overall well-being.
But what does a great oral hygiene routine actually look like? Here are some of the key components to include in your daily regime to keep your mouth healthy:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day, especially after consuming high-sugar foods or drinks (making sure to brush your tongue too)
- Flossing in between the teeth after brushing
- Using mouthwash to target the bacterial plaques that you might have missed when brushing
- Visiting the dentist for regular check-ups at least twice a year (more if you’re dealing with a chronic dental health condition)
- Avoiding sugary foods and drinks, tobacco, and alcohol consumption when possible
When you visit your dentist, they will take a close look at your teeth to identify areas where calculus (built-up plaque) has formed along the gum line. If they feel it necessary to do so, they will perform a ‘scale and polish’ to remove stubborn plaque.
Your dentist can also offer expert advice on how you can maintain your oral health and prevent dental disease. During your check-ups, you can ask any burning questions that you have and book yourself in for any procedures if needed.