New research suggests that the health of our mouth mirrors the condition of our body as a whole. For example, when our mouth is healthy, chances are , our overall health is good, too. On the other hand, if we have poor oral health, we may have other health problems.
There is a relationship between gum (periodontal) disease and health complications such as a stroke and heart disease. Women with gum disease also show higher incidences of pre-term, low birth-weight babies.
Other research shows that more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases (diseases involving many organs or the whole body) have oral manifestations, including swollen gums, mouth ulcers, dry mouth and excessive gum problems.
If we don’t take care of teeth and gums , our poor oral hygiene can actually lead to other health problems, including:
- Oral and facial pain.According to the Office of the Surgeon General, this pain may be largely due to infection of the gums that support the teeth and can lead to tooth loss.
- Problems with the heart and other major organs.Mouth infections can affect major organs. For example, the heart and heart valves can become inflamed by bacterial endocarditis, a condition that affects people with heart disease or anyone with damaged heart tissue.
- Digestion problems.Digestion begins with physical and chemical processes in the mouth, and problems here can lead to intestinal failure, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.
There’s more to keep our pearly whites precisely that than a bit of brushing and the odd visit to a dentist . Take a look at the dental dos and don’ts.
Carbonated drinks (including the diet variety and sparkling water ) can cause our teeth to look older than they really are . These drinks are so highly acidic that they can actually dissolve the upper layers of tooth. They contain high amounts of phosphorous – a mineral that can leach calcium from our bones if we consume too much – and some scientists believe that they can weaken our jawbone , increasing the chance of losing teeth .
Foods that work on the teeth like detergents are foods that require chewing . Apples , celery and carrots clean teeth naturally and foods such as spinach ,lettuce and broccoli prevent staining by creating a film on teeth that acts like barrier . Major stainers will take their toll on our smile sooner or later , so steer clear of tea , coffee , red wine , curries and highly pigmented foods such as cherries and blueberries – anything ,in fact , that will stain a white shirt .
Smoking causes staining of teeth and bad breadth and increases the risk of oral cancer and gum disease , as it constricts blood flow to the gums .
Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing bacteria that accumulates on teeth , including where toothbrushes can’t reach . Many of the foods we eat cause the bacteria in our mouth to produce acids. Sugary foods are obvious sources of plaque , but there are many others that we might not realize can cause harm such as starches – such as bread , crackers and cereal – also cause acids to form . Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums , making them red , sensitive and susceptible to bleeding . This can lead to gum disease , in which gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that fill with bacteria and pus. If the gums are not treated , the bone around the teeth can be destroyed and teeth may become loose or have to be removed.
The best way to remove plaque is by brushing and cleaning in between teeth everyday.
- Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
- Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
- Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Bring the floss back toward the contact point between the teeth and move the floss up or down the other side, conforming the floss to the shape of the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
- Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.
The single biggest advance in oral health has been fluoride, which strengthens enamel, making it less likely to decay. Three out of four Americans drink water that is fluoridated. If your water isn’t fluoridated, talk to your dental professional, who may suggest putting a fluoride application on your teeth. Many toothpastes and mouth rinses also contain fluoride. Fluoride should be used sparingly in young children — no more than a pea-sized dab on the toothbrush. Too much can cause white spots on teeth.
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