Oral health is defined as a state of being free from oral diseases, mouth and facial pain. An individual with good oral health is free of disorders limiting one’s capacity in biting, chewing, speaking, smiling, and psychosocial well-being.

Your mouth is the gateway to your body. Your mouth houses around 6 million bacteria on average. While they are usually harmless and sometimes necessary for the body’s proper functioning, lack of brushing and flossing can lead to the buildup of such bacteria. This buildup of excess bacteria can cause tooth decay and other oral diseases.

Oral health is essential for the general health and the overall well-being of an individual. Bad oral health can lead to social isolation, poor self-esteem, as well as many severe disorders.

Most common causes resulting in many oral diseases like gingivitis (gum disease or inflammation of the gum) and periodontitis (severe infection of the gums) are:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Snacking on sugary foods and drinks
  • Binge eating junk food
  • Acid reflux disorders or heartburn,
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Poor brushing habits

Here are the five ways bad oral health can affect you:

1. Serious health complications in other organs.

Bad oral health can impact other organs and organ systems of the body. It is famously said that your mouth can determine the health of your body. The bacteria living in your mouth can build up over time due to lack of brushing and flossing. This bacteria can then enter other systems of the body and cause health complications.

Oral bacteria can enter the lungs and cause pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and get attached to the areas in the heart. This can cause Endocarditis, i.e. infection of the heart’s inner lining. Research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke might be linked to inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria.

Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. While we often think of the different organ systems in our body as separate systems that do not affect each other. However, the various organ systems are interconnected, and the neglect of one always affects the whole body. Therefore, the route to good health is taking care of your entire body, including your teeth, tongue, gums and mouth.

2. Social Isolation Affecting Mental and Emotional Wellness.

Poor oral health can cause many problems, such as difficulty swallowing, speech problems, oral discomfort, toothache, bad breath and swollen gums.

These symptoms might force one to avoid social situations because of the social stigma associated with these symptoms. Moreover, when people interact with you, they might easily notice these symptoms, affecting their personal relationships and professional opportunities. 

Some of these problems can lead to social isolation affecting mental and emotional wellness. It can also hurt one’s self-esteem and confidence.

3. Gum Disease and Diabetes.

People with diabetes have a higher risk of having periodontal or gum disease. This is due to the weak immune system leading to higher susceptibility for contracting infections. Gum disease begins with bacteria build up on and around your teeth that extend into the gums. While there is no difference in the bacteria in the mouth of someone with diabetes compared to one with regular blood sugar, lower immunity and greater inflammatory response causes gum disease to worsen. 

For patients with diabetes, maximum efforts should be taken for the control of the disease. Controlling diabetes will help to decrease the risk of so many other complications, including gum disease. If the patient already has gum disease, treating it can help in lowering blood sugar levels.

4. Negative body image.

Bad oral health can lead to tooth decay, plaque build-up and discolouration of teeth and gums. Along with having severe effects on oral hygiene and health, it impacts how your smile looks, thereby leading to negative body image issues. Even if it is barely noticeable by another person, one might be highly self-conscious of their mouth and teeth because of a distorted view of their own body.

This negative body image can severely reduce self-confidence and motivation and sometimes lead to mood disorders and depressive symptoms.

5. Diet and Lifestyle – can lead to poor nutrition and limited food choices.

Dental diseases can cause poor nutrition. Dental decay causes tooth loss, which reduces one’s food choices. This results in a diet lacking fruits and vegetables. In elderly patients, tooth loss, joint dysfunction or oral pain can impair chewing, further causing poor nutrition.

On the other hand, poor nutrition causes the immune system to weaken. This increases the risk of periodontal diseases. Eating a well-balanced diet and increasing fibre and vitamin intake improves oral health and reduces the risk of other conditions.

How can one maintain good oral hygiene?

Here are a few tips for preventing oral health problems:

Brush your teeth

It is recommended to brush your teeth twice daily, once in the morning and then at night before going to bed. Brushing your teeth helps thoroughly clean the food particles, plaque, and germs, preventing cavities’ formation. It is advisable to brush your teeth with fluoride-containing toothpaste.

Floss

Flossing once a day is as important as brushing teeth. A flossing thread can go deep within the gaps between teeth; this is not possible with a brush only. Flossing helps remove and prevent the buildup of plaque and bacteria between the deeps crevices and prevent cavities.

Clean your tongue

Cleaning the tongue is very important. For cleaning the surface of the tongue thoroughly with a copper tongue scraper is recommended. The surface of the tongue contains germs that need frequent cleaning. Not cleaning the tongue properly can lead to bad breath, gum infections, cavities etc.

Develop healthier personal habits

Your diet, lifestyle and personal habits can impact oral health. Try avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption and smoking. Binge eating of junk food should be avoided as much as possible and try to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

We all need to visit a dentist regularly, as it is crucial for maintaining good oral health and being well informed about our oral health condition. Regular checkups can help us make better decisions regarding preventive measures. A visit to the dentist every six months is highly recommended.

To remove plaque build-up, scaling, or deep cleaning your teeth about twice a year is essential.

To sum it up:

Oral health and taking good care of it must be given as much importance as general health. It is important to regularly and adequately care for your teeth, gums and mouth. Due to the pandemic, many have neglected the state of their oral hygiene and health. However, it is essential to keep track of your oral hygiene so you can enjoy a pearly smile. Talk to India’s top dentists for a regular check-up or any other concerns regarding oral health on docvita.com.