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5 Reasons Why Good Daily Oral Hygiene is Vital for Dental Health
Most Americans would probably agree that oral hygiene is important to dental health. Unfortunately, they might not be able to give good reasons why beyond the most well-known reason: preventing cavities. Read on to learn 5 good reasons that oral hygiene is important to your dental and general health.
Why is oral hygiene important to dental health?
Poor oral hygiene leads to poor dental health. Plaque build-up, tooth decay, gum disease, and eventual loss of teeth result from poor oral hygiene practices. The effects of poor oral hygiene are costly to repair. According to NerdWallet, dental fillings (restorations) can range from $13 - $1300, depending on the type of materials used and the location of the tooth. Extractions, implants, bridges and dentures are even more expensive.
WebMD defines plaque as a “sticky, colorless film of bacteria.” Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. The things that people eat and drink affect the bacteria. These bacteria thrive on carbohydrates - sugary foods, soft drinks and pasta. As the bacteria grow in number, they produce more and more acid. Because the plaque is sticky, it keeps the acids in close contact with your teeth. The acids eventually break down tooth enamel and can lead to serious problems.
What is the hardest substance in the human body? According to WebMD, tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. Tooth enamel is the durable, outer layer of the tooth. According to the American Dental Association, tooth decay - the destruction of tooth enamel - occurs when the acids in plaque attack the enamel of the teeth. Cavities - holes in teeth - form as the enamel breaks down. As the cavities grow, more and more of the tooth is destroyed until even root damage occurs. At this point, repair choices would include root canal and crown or extraction and implant.
The Mayo Clinic says that poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of gingivitis or gum disease. As the acids in the plaque attack tooth enamel, they also damage the soft tissue of the gums around the base of the teeth. Symptoms of gingivitis, according to the Mayo Clinic, include dusky red, swollen gums, bad breath and bleeding when brushing. Left untreated, gingivitis develops into periodontal disease which results in receding gums and tooth loss.
Early detection of damage or disease
In addition to preventing tooth decay and the problems that go along with it, good oral hygiene habits can also help patients detect anything unusual with their teeth, gums or the inside of their mouth. If they regularly brush and floss, they will be quick to notice anything amiss and report it to their dentist. Oral cancers often do not produce any kind of painful symptoms initially, so it is important to note any swelling or unusual redness that does not resolve itself quickly.
Dental health affects general health
Practicing good oral hygiene affects not only dental health but overall health, as well. Research links a number of adverse health conditions to poor dental health. Poor oral hygiene may not cause these conditions, but it occurs with them often enough to cause physicians to notice the connection. Some conditions often linked with poor dental care that WebMD lists are below.
Illnesses linked to gum disease:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What is good oral hygiene?
The Mayo Clinic provides a short list of healthy oral hygiene habits to develop.
Habits to protect oral health:
- Brush teeth at least two times per day
- Use a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss teeth daily
- Eat healthy foods and limit between-meal snacks
- Replace toothbrush every 3 – 4 months or when frayed
- Visit the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
- Do not use tobacco products
Take care of your dental health
Not only is poor oral hygiene a drain on finances, but it can also lead to poor general health. For the sake of your health, as well as your bank account, be sure to practice good oral hygiene habits, including regular visits to the dentist.
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