by: Dr. Tom Swanlund
Most people understand that diet and exercise play a large part in keeping our bodies healthy. Besides diet and exercise practicing positive oral hygiene habits and keeping our mouths healthy go a long way in keeping our body healthy.
Deficient oral hygiene habits and poor oral can health can affect one's quality of life. Infections within the mouth, pain, and missing teeth can affect the way a person speaks, eats, and talks. These oral health issues can negatively impact a person's quality of life by affecting mental, physical, and social well-being.
Oral infection and disease, like any other condition in the body, need to be treated at the first signs to prevent progression and superinfection. Infections in the mouth can be acute or chronic. Typically acute infections produce marked symptoms such as pain, bleeding, exudate, and swelling while chronic infections these symptoms may present they are less likely to do so. Chronic infections in the mouth may show symptoms such as mild bleeding, swelling, and tenderness which may not be as alarming as an infection that shows up overnight. Both are equally as important to treat in a timely manner. Chronic infection is a serious problem that should not be ignored. Research in the last 10-20 years has proved the association between oral disease and other health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and pre-term/low birth weight babies. Evidence from research also shows that oral infection and disease can aggravate other health conditions and keeping a healthy mouth is an important part of a healthy body.
Follow these 5 tips for positive oral health!
1. See your dentist as recommended. Seeing your dentist every 6 months does not work for everyone, for some who have a chronic oral disease like periodontitis they may be coming every 3 months. Frequency of dental visits is dependent on the health of the oral cavity, follow your dentists' recommendations to keep your mouth healthy!
2. Practice good oral hygiene at home! Brushing is important 2-3 day, but did you know that flossing is one of the most important things you can do for your oral health? Flossing cleans the area where sticky plaque laden with bacteria resides. This sticky bacteria-laden plaque can cause cavities and gum disease. The goal is to floss your teeth 1x day.
3. Eat a healthy varied diet! The vitamins and minerals that come from healthy foods may help you fight oral diseases as well as keep your gums, bone, and jawbone strong against bacteria.
4. Check your own mouth regularly. You can identify potential problems in your own mouth. Look for signs of gum disease such as red, shiny, puffy, sore, or sensitive gums. Check for areas that bleed when you brush or floss or bad breath that won't go away. While you are in your mouth look for signs of oral cancer which may show as sores that do not heal within 2 weeks, white/red patches, numbness or tingling, small lumps and thickening on the sides/bottom of the tongue, the floor, or roof of your mouth the inside of the cheeks or the gums. If you identify any of these see your dentist as soon as possible for an oral examination.
5. Do not smoke or chew tobacco. Smoking and chewing tobacco are both dangerous to your oral health. Tobacco, in general, is a major cause of tooth loss through gum disease and may lead to oral cancer. Tobacco can increase your risk of heart disease and a variety of systemic cancers.
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