Tooth Wisdom: 3 Things You Need to Know About Oral Health

Oral health is easily one of the more overlooked aspects in achieving good overall health. The reason behind this is that people tend to see it as a luxury rather than a necessity, and just another part of their life that does not directly or greatly affect their body. Obviously, this is wrong. While physical and mental health receives more focus, the importance of dental health is as significant as the two aforementioned.

The underlying fact still remains – good overall health is achieved only by receiving care for all the aspects.

old lady brushin teef

Many still wonder what the true essence of good dental care is. As such, it is important to shed some light on the significance of having such, find the link between oral health and general health, and learn the steps one must take to achieve the best dental health possible. Here are 3 things you should know about oral health:

Oral Health Means Much More Than Healthy Teeth

Oral health touches every aspect of human life but is often taken for granted. One’s mouth is in fact a window into the health of the body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems.

A thorough oral examination can detect signs of nutritional deficiencies as well as a number of systemic diseases, including microbial infections, immune disorders, injuries, and some cancers. Indeed, the phrase the ‘mouth is a mirror’ has been used to illustrate the wealth of information that can be derived from examining oral tissues.

small smile

With regard to the broadened meaning of oral health, the definition of overall health has eventually evolved. The standard definition of health, which is “freedom from disease, defect, or pain,” defines what health is not, rather than what it is. A more positive definition, one that the World Health Organization established in 1948, states that health is a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being, and not just the absence of infirmity.

As such, it follows that oral health has created a link with one’s well-being and physiological stability. Just as people now understand that nature and nurture are inextricably linked, and mind and body are both expressions of human biology, people must now recognize that oral health and general health are inseparable.

So often, many people do ignore the signs and symptoms of oral disease and dysfunction to their own detriment. Consequently, given the definition by WHO, this entails that oral health is in fact integral to general health. One cannot be healthy when oral health is taken for granted.

This is why oral health and general health should not be interpreted as separate entities. The former is a critical component of the latter and both must be taken into consideration in the provision and design of healthcare services and programs to every community.

The Link Between Oral Health and General Health

To better understand how the mouth can affect the body, it helps to first determine what can possibly go wrong when oral health is disregarded in the first place.

Bacteria that build up on the teeth make gums prone to infection. The immune system then moves in to attack the infection and the gums become inflamed. Later on, the inflammation continues unless the infection is brought under control.

dentist and patient

Over time, inflammation and the chemicals it releases eat away at the gums and bone structure that hold teeth in place. The result is severe gum disease, known as periodontitis . Inflammation can also cause more serious problems to the rest of the body.

The working relationship between diabetes and periodontitis may be the strongest of all the connections between the mouth and body. People with diabetes have trouble processing sugar because of a lack of insulin, the hormone that converts sugar into energy. In this case, an inflammation in the mouth may serve as a sign that the body is beginning to lose the ability to control blood sugar.

Also, according to the Academy of General Dentistry people with chronic gum disease have a higher risk of having a heart attack. Researchers have learned that gum disease may contribute to heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, and attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation.

It has also been suggested that inflammation caused by gum disease may also trigger clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, thereby causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack.

In line with symptoms evident in the mouth, doctors can actually collect and test saliva to detect other ailments based on a variety of substances that can be detected in the specimen. For example, cortisol levels in saliva are used to test for stress responses in newborn children. Fragments of certain bone-specific proteins may be checked, providing useful information in monitoring bone density in men and women who are prone to osteoporosis. Certain cancer markers and hormone levels are also detectable in saliva.

Routine saliva testing can also reveal the presence of illegal drugs, environmental toxins, hormones and antibodies indicating hepatitis or HIV infection, among other things. In fact, the ability to detect HIV-specific antibodies has led to the production of commercial, easy-to-use saliva test kits. In the future, saliva testing may replace blood testing as a means of diagnosing and monitoring diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cirrhosis of the liver and many infectious diseases.

Steps to Take to be Orally Healthy

Taking good care of a person’s mouth, teeth and gums is already a healthy measure in itself. Good oral and dental hygiene can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease—and can help one keep his or her teeth as they get older.

It is important to always look for dental health professionals who are able to help you in deciding how to address any related health problems. Health Canada, a leading health authority in Canada, states that oral health is important at all stages of life. Seeking help from a Calgary pediatric dentist, or any other professional dental health practitioner, can mean the difference between a comfortable life and a sluggish day full of mouth related pains and aches.

Good dental health is a combination of proper daily maintenance (brushing and flossing) along with regular visits to dental care professional. People with crooked teeth, misaligned jaws and other problems with their mouth can often benefit from orthodontic procedures, such as braces or other techniques to correct the problems.

Braces – once for adolescents only – can now help people of all ages correct problems with their teeth and jaws. Not only do orthodontic procedures aid in improving the appearance, but it can also improve proper digestion (i.e. chewing of food) and even enhance speech problems, in some cases.

tooth friend

Researchers are also discovering more reasons to brush and floss. As stated, a healthy mouth may help ward off medical disorders. Consequently, an unhealthy mouth, especially if the person is inflicted with gum disease, may increase his or her risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes and preterm labor.

Many dentists also suggest eating a healthy diet and limiting between-meal snacks. Various related studies show that, as a rule of thumb, one should: replace toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed, avoid tobacco use, and lastly, visit the dentist regularly.

Dental Doohickey – 7 Popular Myths on Dental Health Debunked

It’s a common belief that you don’t have to go to a dentist if you’re not feeling any dental pain, and that white teeth is an indication of healthy teeth. Well, that’s not entirely true – nor is the fact that you don’t need to floss. To get everything straight, here are 7 myths on dental care debunked. You should keep them in mind so that you can fully take care of your teeth and achieve that perfect smile!

big scary smile

White teeth mean healthy teeth.

One of the most common myths is that having whiter teeth means that your teeth are healthy. Your teeth may be white, but this cannot really show if there is an infection or cavities between the teeth. Plus, not everyone can achieve the pearly white teeth advertised in TV ads. The natural color of teeth varies from one person to another, and people with healthy teeth could have more yellowish teeth than another person.

Moreover, teeth naturally become a little discolored as one ages. This is also the case with teeth when they begin to break down. As such, tooth discoloration has been associated with unhealthy teeth – but, again, it is not always the case.

Bleaching is dangerous for your teeth.

Bleaching has been practiced by dentists for years now, and it’s no longer dangerous to your dental health.

Bleaching is a popular service being offered in recent years, given the availability of the technology that allows patients to get whiter smiles faster and safer. However, prior to 90’s, the raw materials used to bleach teeth were acidic and would actually break down enamel. Nowadays, the bleaching materials have a neutral PH and do not show any evidence of damage to the enamel or root of the tooth.

whitened teeth

When you are bleaching your teeth, you are simply oxidizing your teeth using carbamide peroxide so that light refracts more favorably off the enamel. What can be dangerous is aggressively using high concentrations of whitening gels that can traumatize or shock the teeth. Prolonged use of bleaching could cause sensitivity, but once you stop using any bleaching solutions, traces of pain should go away naturally.

Beauty salons are excellent places to get your teeth whitened.

Contrary to popular belief, beauty salons shouldn’t be a place to go to when you want your teeth whitened. It is illegal for beauticians to offer tooth-whitening treatments, and it is solely done by licensed practitioners of dentistry. This means that tooth whitening can only be legally performed by a dentist, a dental therapist, dental hygienist or a clinical dental technician working on the prescription of a dentist. You also need to see a dentist before you see the other dental professionals to receive the treatment.

The rules are there to protect your teeth and gums. Dental medicine practitioners train for many years to understand the ins and outs of dental medicine, to recognize disease and to know what treatments best suit which patient and how to carry them out. The same is true with teeth whitening procedures. Professionals in tertiary hospitals or specialized facilities like Hamptons Dental use whitening gels and high grade equipment just to make sure that the whitening in your teeth is done right.

Brushing teeth immediately after eating is the best way to go.

Brushing your teeth immediately after eating can actually affect the enamel of your teeth. Surely, it’s tempting to grab your toothbrush and scrub away at your teeth straight after a meal to get rid of any food particles. In reality, this can be detrimental to your dental health as it can do more harm than good.

teeth brushin

Foods containing citric acid, like oranges, grapefruits and lemons, weaken tooth enamel. Brushing too soon after eating them can damage the enamel in its weakened state.

If you really want to stimulate the sensation of brushing, it is more recommended for you to chew sugar-free gum – it stimulates saliva flow, cleans the mouth of food debris and neutralizes plaque acids. When you do get around to cleaning your teeth a little later, try not to be too aggressive with your brushing. Far better is to invest in a powered toothbrush that scientists have proven to be a better, kinder option for your teeth.

The more sugar you eat, the worse off your teeth become.

Surely, sugar is bad for your teeth, but it’s actually not the sugar that is hurting them. Bacteria in the mouth needs processed sugar to survive, but if you don’t consume sugar and have poor oral hygiene habits, you are still prone to the same decay. Also, if you eat a lot of processed sugars you are more likely to incur a certain amount of tooth decay.

Several species of oral bacteria feed on carbohydrates and produce acid as a byproduct through a process of simple fermentation. These bacteria live on the teeth in a biofilm called plaque. At this point, the acid slowly eats away at the tooth enamel, a thin layer of largely calcium that covers the tooth. The human tooth is in a constant state of mineralization and demineralization. Saliva helps neutralize acid from food to keep demineralization at a minimum. However, if the region gets too acidic, then demineralization takes over and rot sets in.

Nonetheless, maintaining oral hygiene through brushing and flossing regularly clears away food residue and starves the bacteria, keeping its growth in check. In the absence of brushing, the carbohydrates that linger the longest can cause the most damage.

Overall, the true cause of tooth decay is the combination of bacteria, sugar, and acid. Your gums can get irritated if sugar gets caught in between your teeth. It is important to brush or rinse after eating, especially after sweets, to get rid of the sugars and acids that can damage the enamel.

Flossing is not Important

Flossing is definitely important for oral health. Flossing is an extra step that a lot of people tend to skip after brushing their teeth which can lead to the buildup of bacteria. If you don’t floss, you are not cleaning almost 33% of the tooth surfaces that regular brushing can’t reach.

teeth flossin

Brushing alone cannot clean the whole area around a tooth when there is another tooth beside it. Flossing completes tooth brushing by removing dental plaque and food debris remaining in the inter-proximal region (the area that is between two teeth). That region is a place where tooth decay commonly forms.

Also, if dental plaque that is found between teeth is not cleaned, it can eventually release bad odors from your mouth. This is a major reason why a person may suffer from bad breath (halitosis). In fact, Tooth decay and gum disease, also caused by dental plaque, are the usual source of a bad smell in the mouth.

“Fine”-looking teeth is enough of a sign to disregard your dentist appointment

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality does not apply to oral health; it’s mainly because you wouldn’t really know if something’s wrong with your teeth until you go to a dentist or when the situation has gone worse. This is why you should have your teeth checked up regularly.

perfect smile

Experts at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that adults should be called for check-ups, depending on risk factors including alcohol, tobacco use and diet. It is recommended to go to a dentist every three months for those who are at high risk of dental problems, and every two years for those with lower risks.

It’s wise to visit your dental team regularly even if you are not experiencing any problems with your mouth or teeth. Having your teeth checked regularly helps you and your dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist in keeping your teeth and gums healthy and pain-free.