The topic of hygiene is all over the news right now, and we thought it might be a good time to revisit the basics on oral hygiene. First and foremost, it's important to realize that poor oral hygiene can leave your mouth more susceptible to bacteria and viruses. So without a doubt, this is no time to let up on your regular brushing and flossing habits. In addition, poor oral hygiene will leave you vulnerable to long term issues like gum disease and even heart disease. Let's keep things clean with an examination of the basics on oral hygiene.
So what makes up proper oral hygiene? It's no secret that it all revolves around proper brushing and flossing habits. You need to brush twice a day and floss once a day to achieve regular care for your mouth. This is rather pedestrian stuff, but it's easy to get into a habit where you're forgetting to floss, or simply not brushing as effectively as you should (remember you need to brush for 2-3 minutes each session). In addition other habits can lead to poor oral hygiene, namely regular tobacco use or excessive consumption of soda and sugary beverages. Not drinking enough water, or suffering dry mouth symptoms from other causes, can also lead to less than sterling oral hygiene.
Poor oral hygiene has other physical and emotional effects as well. Poor oral health can create a lack of confidence in some people as they are less likely to smile and be themselves around others. Toothaches and serious cavities can lead to daily distractions and loss of sleep, which can have far reaching consequences on emotional health. Needless to say, proper oral hygiene is very important!
As we just mentioned, staying hydrated is an important part to maintaining proper oral hygiene. This is because your saliva is you best defense against the bacteria that grow in your mouth. As uncomfortable as it may be to think about, your mouth plays host to hundreds of different bacteria strains at one time. Thankfully saliva contains pathogens that fight bacteria and even viruses like the common cold. It also contains compounds that prevent new bacteria from growing. In today's sobering environment filled with Covid-19 or Coronavirus fears, it is wise to keep your oral hygiene habits strong so your saliva can protect you like it should. As of now there is little research on how effective saliva is against a strain like Covid-19, but it almost goes without saying better safe than sorry.
There are many patients who may have trouble producing enough saliva for it to properly do its job. In this case, we recommend working with your dentist and doctor to change medications that may be aggravating the condition. Most dry mouth occurs from the use of certain medications. It also helps to avoid dehydrating beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol.
Proper oral hygiene and your saliva doesn't just protect against bacteria and viruses. It also reduces the chances of developing long term diseases like gum disease and heart disease. Think about it like this. Your healthy teeth create a barrier between the bacteria growing in your mouth and your bloodstream. However when your teeth deteriorate, or you develop an inflamed condition like gingivitis and later periodontal disease, you provide an easy link for those hundreds of bacteria to get into your bloodstream. As people age or develop other diseases, the entry of this bacteria can cause infections elsewhere in the body. The inflammation of gingivitis and periodontal disease has also been linked to heart disease. This means you're at a higher risk for heart related complications if you maintain poor oral hygiene.
There is no secret remedy for poor oral hygiene. You just need to develop good brushing, flossing and dietary habits that minimize the risk factors associate with poor oral health. Remember, it is a marathon not a sprint. If you're not adhering to quality oral hygiene habits, there is always time to change. A visit to the dentist, and a talk with your dental hygienist, is a great place to start. Even if your teeth are currently healthy, do an assessment check next time you brush before bed. Are you covering all sides of your teeth and your gums when you brush? Are you brushing too hard? Do you rush through flossing or are you making sure you're doing a proper job? These are all factors to consider as you evaluate your hygiene habits.
Perhaps there is a bright side to the Coronavirus scare, and that is we all need to pay closer attention to our hygiene habits. Your mouth is no different, especially given the fact that saliva is one of the key factors that fight bacteria and viruses in your mouth. Let's all make 2020 the year we strengthen our habits around hygiene. And please wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face in public!
If you're worried your oral hygiene skills are lacking, schedule a consultation at Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry today.