Oral health is about so much more than just the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums since your mouth is how most things get into your body. Because the mouth has about six million bacteria particles, it’s important to keep your mouth clean and implement a proper dental regime. Bacteria can have detrimental effects to your oral health. It can get into your bloodstream and cause infection and inflammation wherever it spreads. This is why it is so important to practice good oral hygiene and to see a dentist regularly in order to avoid serious risk to the body’s overall health.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to:
According to Colgate, 60 to 90 per cent of people will get cavities (also known as caries) at some point in their life. Cavities are caused by excess plaque and tartar that live on your teeth. Once plaque forms, the acid wears away the enamel, the tooth’s hard outer surface, forming tiny holes in your teeth. These tiny holes or gaps in the enamel are the first stage of cavities. If left untreated, the acid and bacteria will continue to break down the layers of your teeth and start to affect the dentin, a softer layer of tissue under the enamel.
Treatment: The typical treatment for cavities are fillings, but if a tooth is badly destroyed your dentist may opt to remove or cover it with a dental crown.
Between 50 and 90 percent of adults have gingivitis, which, if left untreated, leads to periodontal disease. Gingivitis is formed when food debris mixes with saliva and bacteria-forming plaque that sticks on the surfaces of teeth. If dental plaque and tartar aren’t removed by regularly brushing with toothpaste and flossing, it can become mineralized and form tartar. Tartar is very hard and can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Gums then separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
50 to 80 per cent of all adults in the US carry oral herpes, which is a result of the herpes simplex virus. Oral herpes may cause blisters and ulcers on the tongue or gum, flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all. Once you are infected, the virus permanently resides in your body. However, with proper care, the infection can stay dormant.
Obviously, poor oral health practices such as smoking or using tobacco products can lead to oral and throat cancers, but other types of cancer have also been linked to gum disease. Risk for kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and blood cancers is much higher for people who have poor oral health.
Oral health is an indicator of overall health. Taking care to prevent oral health problems like gingivitis and periodontal disease can go a long way toward decreasing the risk for more serious health problems throughout the body.