Developing, and practicing, life-long oral health habits is an important part of your overall health and wellness. Implementing the following dental hygiene tips can keep your mouth, and body, healthy.
Dental and Oral Issue Symptoms
Dental health issues will be recognizable by certain signs or symptoms that will tell you something is wrong with your mouth. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Ulcers and sores that don't heal after a week or more
- Gums that bleed after brushing and flossing
- Chronic bad breath
- Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks
- Dry mouth
- Toothaches or pain
- Receding gums
- Pain associated with biting or chewing
- Cracked or broken teeth
Consult your dentist if you have any of these issues.
Can Bad Dental Hygiene Cause Health Issues?
Neglecting aspects of your health can cause illness and disease throughout the body. That includes the mouth too because of the oral health body connection. Health problems related to poor oral hygiene include gum disease, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
The following is a list of what types of diseases can result from poor hygiene.
Gums become inflamed due to bacteria that cause periodontal disease. If bacteria gets into a person’s bloodstream, it can clog arteries from the build-up of plaque. The arteries then harden. That process of the arteries hardening is referred to as atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis causes blood flow issues and heart blockages. It also increases heart attack probability. Hypertension and the risk of a stroke can also result from damage sustained by the arteries and blood vessels. Endocarditis – an infection of the heart lining – is another potential health issue. Endocarditis can also be fatal.
The brain can also be affected by poor oral hygiene. Inflamed gums can release substances that kill brain cells and cause memory loss. Dementia can be caused by mouth bacteria that result from gingivitis. The bacteria enter the bloodstream or spread to nerve channels. Alzheimer’s Disease is another possible disease caused by poor dental hygiene.
Mouth bacteria that result from infected teeth and swollen gums can flow to the lungs in the bloodstream. It can also get there simply from the act of breathing. Pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can all be caused by a lack of good oral hygiene.
Diabetes is harder for patients to control when they suffer from periodontal disease. The symptoms of diabetes worsen when gum disease causes a diabetic’s blood sugar to reach unsafe levels. So anyone with poor oral health is at an elevated risk for developing diabetes.
Moms-to-be need to practice good oral hygiene because hormonal changes in their bodies during pregnancy make them more susceptible to developing oral infections. The risk of pregnancy complications is increased with the development of any bodily infection. Gingivitis and periodontitis can cause premature birth and low birth weights in babies. Gum disease increases the chances of health issues for both the mother and her baby.
Infertility in women and poor oral health are connected. Gum disease makes conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy more difficult for a woman. Women who have poor oral health can also take longer to become pregnant than women who have good oral health.
Poor oral hygiene can increase a man’s risk for erectile dysfunction. When gums pull away from teeth, pockets are created. The bacteria that results from chronic periodontal disease can then reach the bone that surrounds teeth. Bacteria can also get into the bloodstream. That makes blood vessels swell. The swelling inhibits blood flow to the genitals. This can make it difficult for a man to achieve an erection.
Any sort of tobacco use can lead to oral or throat cancer. Poor oral health also increases the risk of developing kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, and blood cancer.
People who suffer from gum disease tend to have weaker immune systems, so they are more susceptible to infections. Those infections can lead to kidney disease. Kidney disease affects the kidneys, heart, blood pressure, and bones. It can lead to kidney disease or cardiovascular disease – both are potentially fatal.
People with gum disease are four times more likely to suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Bacteria associated with gingivitis can cause inflammation throughout the entire body. This increases the risk for RA – a painful, inflammatory disease.
Can Bad Teeth Make You Sick?
Rotten teeth are just one health issue that can result from poor oral health. Besides bad breath, bad teeth affect the rest of your body by causing serious health issues.
The immune system will weaken over time because of rotten teeth. When the immune system becomes weak, the body can weaken too. Hands might start to tremble from a weakened immune system.
The toxic rot from teeth is often swallowed along with saliva. That allows it to enter the digestive system and the bloodstream, thus, poisoning it.
The ability to enjoy the tastes of specific foods can also be lost. Infections can form in the mouth from rotten teeth. The resulting pain can limit the ability to eat certain foods.
Sepsis is a blood infection caused by mouth bacteria entering the bloodstream. It often attacks people with weakened immune systems.
Sepsis symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, high fever, and difficulty breathing. Septic shock can result if sepsis advances and a person’s blood pressure drops too low.
Meningitis is when the membranes near the spinal cord and brain become inflamed. Untreated infections can get to the spinal cord and the brain by entering the bloodstream. Meningitis can result in hospitalization and is potentially life-threatening.
Now that you know about health problems caused by bad teeth, focus on dental health tips to keep your mouth, and your body, healthy.
How to Prevent Poor Oral Hygiene?
Seeing a dentist for regular checkups and professional cleanings is one of the best ways to ensure your mouth stays healthy. Cleanings remove plaque and tartar from the teeth before they can cause cavities, gingivitis, gum disease, or other mouth health issues.
Preventing poor oral hygiene starts at home too. Find ways to maintain good oral hygiene.
But what is good oral hygiene? And how can I improve my oral hygiene? The answers to both questions are found by developing a good dental hygiene routine.
Dental Hygiene Routine
Seeing your dentist plays a key role in keeping your mouth healthy. But it is only one part. A good dental hygiene routine includes other aspects.
Brush your teeth for two minutes at a time at least twice daily. Use a brush that has soft bristles and brush with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Brush with short, gentle strokes that are as wide as a tooth. In order, brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and then the chewing surfaces.
If you can, brush after eating a meal when you’re not home. Keep a toothbrush and some toothpaste in your desk at work.
Replace your toothbrush every three or four months. Do it sooner if the bristles are frayed. You won’t adequately clean your teeth if you’re using a worn toothbrush.
Floss at least once daily. Bacteria forms between teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Regular flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth and under the gumline.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel. Enamel is the hard, protective coating found on the outside of each tooth. Your dentist might recommend fluoride treatments to keep your teeth strong and prevent tooth decay. They can be performed in your dentist’s office after a cleaning.
Limit Sugary and Acidic Foods
Start by eating a balanced diet that limits foods high in sugar and starch. Swap out processed carbohydrates – which can be high in sugar – for fresh fruit and vegetables. Those contain natural sugars at lower levels than processed foods.
Drinks are a food source typically high in sugar that you might not consider limiting your consumption. Some of those drinks include sodas, juices, sports drinks, sweetened iced tea, and flavored coffees.
Find a Dentist Near Me
Consult your dentist to discuss your questions about dental hygiene. Or, check out The Smile Generation to find a dentist near you for all your dental hygiene questions and tips. You can read patient reviews, peruse staff bios, and schedule an appointment online with a click of your mouse.
“Everything You Need to Know About Dental and Oral Health,” Healthline, Mar. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health
“10 Health Issues Caused by Bad Oral Health,” Absolute Dental, December 2021, https://www.absolutedental.com/blog/10-health-issues-caused-by-bad-oral-health/
“Poor Oral Hygiene Symptoms and Health Risks,” Total Care Dental, https://www.tcdmadison.com/DentistryBlog/PoorOralHygieneHealthRisks
“The Dangers of Rotten Teeth,” McCarthy Dentistry, https://www.mytotaldentistry.com/blog/the-dangers-of-rotten-teeth/
“Brushing Your Teeth,” Mouth Healthy, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth