How Important Is Good Dental Hygiene?

Do we sometimes consider our oral health to be of secondary importance?

Flossing teethMost of us would probably agree that staying healthy is important. With better awareness, many of us can now expect to live into our old age, helped by being active, eating healthily, exercising and not smoking. Having successfully raised the awareness about this, we feel that more focus now needs to be put upon oral health as this can also have a significant effect on our overall quality of life.

Over time, the dentists at the Foxhall Dental Practice in Ipswich have seen the results of oral neglect. Whilst, for many, this may have been routine dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease, the effects of poor oral health can go much further and potentially cause serious general health issues.

How to achieve good oral health

Although we have covered this before, we believe that it never hurts to repeat important messages about our health and that includes oral health too of course.

Left alone, our teeth and gums would come under attack from acids and bacteria and it wouldn’t be long before discomfort and diseases took hold. Thankfully, looking after the oral cavity is relatively straightforward although there is always room for improvement. Eating a tooth friendly diet is a good start. This means trying not to eat too many sugary foods and avoiding overly acidic drinks and harsh citrus fruits.

When we clean our teeth, we generally start by brushing them. This needs to be done effectively and we advise our Ipswich patients to discuss the best way to do this with our dental hygienist. Flossing between the teeth should also be added on a daily basis as well. As bacterial and mineral deposits build up on our teeth over time, especially where it is difficult to brush, this produces a rough surface that can attract bacteria which needs to be removed by the hygienist with a procedure known as a scale and polish. With this and regular dental visits for a checkup, you should be on your way to having a healthy mouth.

Oral health problems

If we fail to look after our oral health well, there are a number of problems that can happen. Some of these are problematic with some potentially even fatal.

The most common problems mentioned earlier are tooth decay and gum disease. Tooth decay can have an impact on our general wellbeing as poor teeth means that we sometimes struggle to eat the foods that we want to. As well as taking away from our enjoyment and perhaps making eating more of a chore than a pleasure, it can, in more extreme cases, mean that we struggle to obtain sufficient nutrition.

The next most common problem caused by poor oral health is gum disease. The milder form of gum disease called gingivitis is usually manageable with improved home care combined with a scale and polish. Where this is not managed, it can lead to periodontitis which affects the tooth right down to the root and also the surrounding bone. Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss but is also increasingly being linked with many serious general health issues. These include heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, some lung diseases and even erectile dysfunction. Further studies are ongoing but the general belief is that with periodontal diseases, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream, resulting in the aforementioned problems.

Perhaps a little ironically, whilst patients with diabetes are at a higher risk of having gum disease, some studies also indicate that patients with gum disease are at a higher risk of diabetes as well. A case of what came first, the chicken or the egg perhaps.

One of the most serious oral cavity related problems linked to poor oral health is mouth cancer. Whilst periodontitis has been linked with cancers in general, oral cancer is the one most likely to be affected by poor mouth health. Like other diseases, there are also other factors to take into consideration, for example the adverse effects of smoking and the direct link to various forms of cancer.

Mouth cancers are serious and can cause facial disfigurements along with difficulties such as swallowing or speech. It can also prove to be fatal, especially if not detected and treated early enough.

Although we try to focus on taking a positive approach to oral health, it is important to be aware of what can happen if you fail to take responsibility for your daily teeth and gum care. We are here to help you to have a healthy mouth and thereby hopefully contributing to a healthy body too! You can make an appointment to see a dentist at the Foxhall Dental Practice by calling us on 01473 258396.