It is safe to say that good oral hygiene is a true investment in your quality of life, with the World Health Organization having identified oral hygiene as “an essential component to overall health and important to our wellbeing”.
People of all age groups will benefit from maintaining a good daily oral hygiene routine – using appropriate fluoride toothpastes, brushing at least twice daily, flossing in between the teeth and removing debris from the tongue.
What else can I do to ensure better oral health?
It is crucial to maintain a healthy balanced diet so that your body receives the nutrients that are essential for a healthy immune system.
You should also reduce your consumption of foods high in sugar and starches, as these produce acids in the mouth, which in turn start the process of decay.
Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which may contribute to gum disease or oral complications.
And most importantly ask your dental professional to devise a personalised dental care plan to reduce disease progression.
Dental health and overall health
Good oral health means much more than just an attractive smile. To a large extent, the condition of our mouth mirrors the condition of our body as a whole. There are many ways in which poor dental care can compromise our overall health and hence shorten our lifespan.
This is because the mouth is effectively a gateway into the body for a large amount of micro-organisms, which can cause infection in organs throughout the body. These microbes are usually linked with gum (periodontal) disease, tooth decay and abscesses in the mouth. When such dental conditions are left untreated, the microbes can spread throughout the body either via the digestive tract or through the bloodstream.
At its worst, the inflammation associated with periodontal disease may, in turn, increase inflammation throughout the body, leading to diseases such as osteoporosis, which is linked to periodontal bone loss; or rheumatoid arthritis, being the destruction of connective tissue similar to the tissue degeneration found in gum disease. It has long been known that gum disease can increase the risk of poor glycaemic control, thereby increasing the severity of diabetes. Similarly, the chronic inflammation found in gum disease had been associated with the development of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, blockages of blood vessels and stroke.
Further, the oral cavity can also act as a reservoir for respiratory pathogens found in the plaque that can form within deep periodontal pockets, which may ultimately lead to respiratory tract diseases.
In summary, practising good oral hygiene and having regular dental check-ups and hygiene appointments is likely not only to reward you with a beautiful, confident smile but also to boost your life span.