5 Keys to Optimal Oral Health
Did you know that your mouth teems with bacteria?
Your mouth and the oral cavity is the gateway to your body. Maintaining the health of your mouth is not only good for your teeth and gums but also ensures that harmful microbes and bacteria don’t gain the upper hand, which can lead to bigger systemic problems. Did you know that your mouth teems with bacteria (I know, kind of disgusting) but proper oral care and our natural defenses keep these little beasts at levels that are not harmful to our body. However, if left unchecked, microbes can create decay and gum disease. These oral infections can have big consequences for our overall health. Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) might play a role in some serious diseases.
What conditions can be linked to poor oral health?
Cardiovascular disease: Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
Endocarditis: This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
Pregnancy and birth complications. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Pneumonia. Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
Okay . . . What can be done to maintain optimal oral health?
Here are 5 keys to ensure that your mouth and oral cavity are in tiptop shape and that you are winning the war against harmful bacterial:
1. Maintain a regular routine with your oral home care.
Be sure to brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Flossing is critical step that should not be skipped. A toothbrush cannot get the surfaces where your teeth touch one another—it is only effective cleaning the front and back sides of your teeth. Floss allows the food not only to be removed between the teeth but also below the gum line. It cannot be emphasized enough the importance of flossing! Here is a handy tip—floss before brushing—it is the most effective way to remove all the food and plaque.
2. See your dentists at least twice a year for a dental check up and teeth cleaning.
Twice a year visits are a general guideline—there are many patients who benefit from cleanings 3 to 4 times per year. These patients build tartar at a faster rate than the average person no matter how meticulous they are cleaning their teeth (or they just may not be good brushers and need extra help). In addition, seeing a dentist on a regular basis can nip problems in the bud, which ultimately prevents the progression of minor problems to more severe issues like periodontitis or tooth decay.
3. Be mindful what you eat
Food and drink that contain a lot of sugar can be real culprits for tooth decay. In addition, sticky (starchy) foods and foods/drinks that are highly acidic can also damage your teeth. Examples of foods and drinks to avoid or limit are: Sour candies, taffy, caramels, bread, crackers, potato chips, carbonated drinks, dried fruits, pickles, citrus fruit, and high carb sports drinks. One good option is to clean your teeth immediately after eating or drinking one of these items or at a minimum, rinse vigorously with water. On the flip side of the coin, what foods help clean your teeth? Think fibrous fruits and vegetables like apples, celery and carrots, which scrub your teeth. In addition, eating berries (blueberries, cranberries and raspberries) that contain anthocyanin, can prevent the attachment and colonization of bacteria in the mouth.
4. Avoid habits that are harmful to the oral cavity:
Cigarette smoking, pipe smoking, chewing tobacco and vaping are not only bad for your health but also are damaging to oral structures. Did you know that a smoker has three to six times the risk for gum disease as a nonsmoker? Smoking and chewing tobacco weakens your immune system and makes it harder for the gums to heal. In addition, smokers are at a much higher risk to develop oral cancer. Here is a scary fact: 90% of people who have cancer of the mouth, tongue, lips or throat used tobacco. Besides, smoking makes your teeth yellow and causes bad breath—yuck!
5. Straighten your teeth!
Crooked teeth are much more difficult to keep clean and thus maintain optimal dental and periodontal health. In addition, the bony support that encapsulates the roots of the teeth can be compromised when teeth are out of position leading to unfavorable occlusal forces and potential bone loss. Investing in Invisalign to straighten your teeth can benefit not only your oral health but also the health of your body!
If you have questions about the benefits of Invisalign treatment, please call Visage Orthodontics at 505-670-6145 or visit our appointment page to schedule a complimentary consultation with me, Dr. Tanner, your Santa Fe Invisalign specialist. I will review everything in detail and develop a customized treatment plan to fit your lifestyle and budget.
A confident and beautiful smile is right around the corner!