On a scale of one to ten, how serious do you take your oral hygiene? One being you do the bare minimum of just brushing your teeth and ten being you are your dentist’s favourite patient. No matter where you fall on this scale, it’s important to know that oral health plays a role in your overall health.
The oral health and overall health connection
Like most parts of the body, the mouth has a host of bacteria. Normally, good oral hygiene and the body’s natural defence mechanisms keep this bacteria under control. But if you’re not practising good oral hygiene, the bacteria can wreak havoc by causing inflammation, tooth decay, and bad breath among other things.
One of the most common problems caused by poor oral hygiene habits is gum disease, a serious infection of the gums that can lead to tooth loss and jawbone damage. Besides having an impact on your oral health, numerous studies have found that gum disease may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease. The thought behind this is that the bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream causing a protein build-up which then leads to the platelets causing blockages. Now, this is not to say that all gum disease will lead to heart disease or that everyone that suffers from heart disease has poor oral hygiene but it’s enough to make one more vigilant about their oral health.
So, how can I improve my oral health?
Thankfully, when it comes to improving your oral health, there are some very simple things you can do — like actually listening to your dentist. If you haven’t visited your dentist in while, here are some tips from Dr Ian Erasmus on behalf of Elgydium, to help you make some improvements until your next appointment.
The kind of toothpaste you use is important
Now, you might think that all toothpaste is equal but it’s really not. Depending on your needs, your toothpaste needs to be able to meet the requirements. Some tubes of toothpaste are just your normal everyday toothpaste to clean your mouth, while others have additives for whitening, sensitivity or anti-cavity protection. Usually, you would know what your oral health needs are but if you need some guidance, your dentist will have all the answers.
If you’re in need of some extra plaque protection, try Elgydium Anti-Plaque toothpaste. It contains calcium carbonate which will safely remove plaque and surface stains. And if sensitivity is an issue, the Elgydium Sensitive Toothpaste Gel will help to protect sensitive teeth against foods and drinks.
Yes, you do really need to floss
Be honest, do you regularly floss or are you only doing it when something is stuck in your teeth? “[Flossing] is very necessary and should be done at least once on a day. Preferably before a brushing session,” says Dr Erasmus. Flossing helps to get rid of the bacteria and build-up between your teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach. So if you want to minimise your risk of cavities, you’ve got to start flossing every single day!
Brush up on your brushing skills
Believe it or not, but there is an optimal way to brush your teeth. Using your toothbrush, make circular movements all around the mouth (that includes your teeth, cheeks and tongue) for at least 2 minutes a day to make sure all the surfaces of your teeth are clean. You can follow up with a mouth wash for extra freshness. “You can use a daily mouthwash which contains fluorinol which will strengthen and remineralise the enamel, ” says Dr Erasmus. Just be sure to check the label for added alcohol content as it’s not recommended for daily use.
Be mindful of the foods you eat
If you’re an avid coffee and tea drink (guilty) then you know all about just how foods and drinks can damage and stain your teeth. The same goes for foods that have high sugar and acidity content. Foods and drinks like candy, citrus fruits and sugary drinks can trigger bacteria to release acids that attack the teeth’s enamel causing cavities.
Visiting the dentist is a must
Probably the most important thing you could do for your oral health is to visit your dentist every 6 months for a dental check-up. Furthermore, you should visit the oral hygienist every 6 months for the cleaning and polishing of your teeth.
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Source: Womens Health sa