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Did you know oral care is connected to everything from brain function to human body immunity? What goes on inside your mouth can directly affect several bodily functions that seem very unrelated. Gum disease can lead to diabetes, loss in brain function, and gasp...STD's! You may be asking yourself, why is this the case? According to Sally Cram DDS, a spokesperson for the ADA (American Dental Association), every time your mouth harbors an infection it rarely contains itself solely inside the mouth. It flows through your bloodstream, affecting your immune system and even the organs inside your torso region.
There are a few simple indicators to watch for in helping prevent infections or serious disease. First off, take a good look at your teeth in the mirror. Do you have any discoloration of your teeth? A mouth full of discolored teeth is a mouth full of microbes. An abundance of these Microbes can lead to gum disease. Another thing to pay attention to is sensitivity. Have you ever ignored a sensitive tooth or cavity? Masking it with Sensodyne to avoid a costly dentist visit? Bad idea! The longer you wait to see a dentist, the greater your chances are for larger caries (cavities) or other problematic dental situations. Eventually a root canal follows..... And everyone knows how fun that can be! Everyone gets morning breath or garlic mouth on occasion, but if this odor becomes persistent (lasts longer than 2 weeks) you may be suffering from gum disease. What happens is the bad bacteria mixes with the good bacteria and sulfur compounds form, causing your mouth to omit a rotten egg aroma. Do you get cold sores inside your mouth? If they are white and last more than 3 weeks you could be infected with oral HPV. This STD can lead to cancer so keep your teeth clean and your mouth in tip top shape. The last thing to look at is the color of your gums. Are they pale pink? If so, your gums are healthy. But if you begin to notice your teeth appear smaller and your gums appear bigger, your gums could be inflamed. Having inflamed gums can lead to gum disease, which is the leading cause of receding gums leaving exposed roots vulnerable to decay.
Do your gums bleed more than they should? This could be a sign of oral inflammation or gingivitis. Grab a mirror and stick your tongue out, is it bald or does it look a tad hairy? If it's bald you may be experiencing a vitamin B deficiency. If your tongue is white, you may have inflammation or dry mouth or worse.... case scenario, you may be carrying a yeast infection in your mouth. This type of yeast infection that takes place in your mouth on your tongue is called thrush.
Now that you are aware of all the different infections and diseases your mouth can experience you need to know what preventative measures can be taken to decrease the chances you will develop one of them. Remember the number 2.
You should be brushing twice a day for two minutes each time and at a 45 degree angle. Gently brush all sides of your teeth with a soft-bristled brush. Round and short back-and-forth strokes work best. Take time to brush along the gum line, and lightly brush your tongue to help remove plaque and food. You should also be flossing once a day.
Slide the floss in between and then up and down each tooth. Change your toothbrush every three months, or earlier if the toothbrush looks worn or the bristles spread out. A new toothbrush removes more plaque. Use fluoride toothpaste when brushing as it is recommended by most dentists. Always use alcohol free mouthwash as the other stuff can dry out your mouth.
How would you like to add years to your life through your mouth? Think about this, saliva is the number one defense of your mouth. It is filled with antibacterial properties like Histatin which kills germs and heals wounds. Dry mouth is a gum disease magnet. Chew gum to hydrate your mouth, just be sure its sugar free. Wash your mouth out with water every few hours or after every meal at the very least. This will help rid of food particles that attract bacteria. This bacteria can lead to plaque, cavities, gingivitis, gum disease and more. Lastly, you need to relax. Chronic stress and/or anxiety can weaken the immune system making your body less able to fight off infections, including the oral kind. Stress also triggers the bodies fight or flight response which lowers the level of saliva your mouth produces and redirects fluid elsewhere in the body and raises acid levels in the mouth upping your chance at developing cavities.
Try to lead a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy meals. Cut down on tooth decay by brushing after meals. Avoid snacking on sugary or starchy foods between meals. Limit how much soda you drink. Even diet soda contains acids that can erode tooth enamel. See a dentist for an oral exam once or twice a year. Your dentist may recommend more or fewer visits depending on your oral health. During your visit your dentist or oral hygienist looks for signs of diseases, infections, problems, injuries, and oral cancer so it is very important that you make and keep these appointments.
Taking good care of your oral health can prevent disease in your mouth. Oral health can affect the health of your entire body. Good oral health does not just mean you have pretty teeth. Your whole mouth needs care to be in good health.