Nobody needs to be told that they should brush their teeth. This is something that's ingrained as a child and there is plenty of evidence to show that brushing helps to maintain good oral and dental health. Yet many people treat this twice-daily task as a nuisance and just give it their cursory attention. What's at risk if you don't prioritise your oral hygiene?
When Brushing Gets in the Way
How many times have you arrived at the end of a long, tough day and tried to rush your evening ablutions before jumping into bed? You may even decide to "just" brush your teeth and not floss on this occasion. That type of approach quickly builds up a bad habit over time. It's very important to brush for at least two minutes each time you do this as well as to floss between each of your teeth individually. This is because your mouth is known to be one of the dirtiest places in the whole of your body. There are millions of bacteria, some of which are to be welcomed, but the majority of which are not.
The Bad Result
If you allow this bacteria to cultivate in the mouth through inadequate dental hygiene, it can lead to a quick buildup of plaque, which in turn develops into inflammation and possibly periodontitis. This serious disease can catch you unawares and may not become noticeable until you start to see bleeding when you're brushing. At that time, some of the very harmful bacteria caused by this illness can enter your bloodstream and cause big problems.
The Bigger Picture
You might be wondering what some of the larger medical conditions related to poor dental hygiene are. In this case, the "bad" bacteria can find its way through the bloodstream into the lining of the heart and valves, where it can multiply. Inflammation caused can lead to a condition called endocarditis, or a heart attack. It is also thought that oral bacteria can lead to narrowing of the arteries, which can trigger blood clots and the potential for a stroke.
As well as these circulatory issues, oral bacteria can also enter the lungs and lead to pneumonia or COPD.
So, in addition to regular, twice yearly visits to the dentist, make sure that you never skimp on brushing and flossing. In relative terms you only need a very short amount of time twice a day for this important regimen.Share
13 December 2016
As a retired dentist, I work with charities which visit developing countries and educate children about dental care. It gives me great satisfaction to revisit these communities and see how proud the children are of their efforts. I am acutely aware that good dental hygiene can help prevent a range of serious conditions when these children become older. I started this blog because it greatly distresses me that many people in Australia do not seem to care for their teeth as much as children in these poor communities. This is happening despite ready access to items like toothbrushes and toothpaste which are luxuries in the places I visit. It is my hope that this blog encourages you not to take dental health for granted. My greatest wish is that you can be as inspired as the children I see in my charity work. Please read on and enjoy.