The Relationship Between Health and Oral Hygiene
Recent studies have shown that there is a link between good oral hygiene and the overall health of your body.
Neglecting your oral health can lead to periodontal disease (commonly called gum disease), which not only negatively affects the health of your gums and teeth, but may also affect your eyes, kidneys, and even your heart. Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes must be especially diligent in maintaining good oral hygiene as inflammation of the mouth and gums can interfere with the body’s ability ability to control blood sugar.
Brushing and Flossing
One of the easiest things that people can do to maintain their oral health is to brush after meals or and floss at least once a day. While this may seem like the most basic advice, not brushing and/or flossing can lead to the buildup of plaque, which contains bacteria that feed on the sugars that you eat. As bacteria feed, they produce acids that attack tooth enamel (the hard surface of your teeth) which may ultimately cause enamel erosion, leaving the inner part of the tooth (the dentin) exposed and vulnerable to tooth decay as well as temperature sensitivity.
Sugar and Tooth Decay
Although it’s widely know than sugary foods and drinks are the maintaining contributors to tooth decay, it should also be pointed out that citrus fruit drinks (as well as energy drinks and sports drinks that contain citrus), in addition to containing natural sugar, contain acids that are harmful to tooth enamel. Tea drinkers should limit their consumption of low-pH (acidic) teas, and drinkers of diet soda should be aware that many diet sodas are acidic even if they are sugar free.
Now, this is not to say that you should never consume beverages such as those mentioned above, but rather that it’s best to drink them over a short period of time (rather than sipping on them all day) and brush afterwards. Chewing sugarless gum on occasions when brushing is not an option can also help prevent tooth decay by stimulating the production of saliva, which helps clean your teeth.
Other Health Factors
Enamel erosion can also be caused by other health conditions. Acid reflux, bulimia, anorexia and gastrointestinal problems can cause stomach acid, which is highly corrosive to tooth enamel, to come in contact with your teeth. Xerostomia, or dry mouth, which can be caused by certain diseases, medications, and cancer treatments (such as radiation or chemotherapy), can also be harmful to your teeth because they reduce the production of saliva, which plays an important role in the health of your mouth, teeth and gums.
Visit Your Dentist For Solutions & Preventative Action
Regular visits to your dentist can help detect oral health problems before they turn serious. Keep your dentist informed of other health problems you have or medical treatments you may be receiving. Your dentist can often recommend solutions that will eliminate or ease your symptoms. For example, your dentist may recommend certain mouthwashes and toothpaste for dry mouth; dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay of the molars; dental appliances if you suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding); or fluoride rinses and treatments as a preventative measure.