Smiles can be therapeutic. Hours of stress from work can be alleviated by just a single smile from someone you love. Even receiving a smile from a stranger, despite the oddity, is still pretty much healing. Simply, smiles are an indirect, contactless way to let someone know that there’s still a reason to keep living despite difficulties they experience in life.
But not everyone feels comfortable when it comes to smiling. Some close their lips while smiling, and some radiate so much confidence when they give a toothy grin. While the genuineness of the gesture does not lie in showing your pearly whites, being able to smile confidently still makes a big difference.
This is why oral health is an important component in your lifestyle. Having pearly white teeth is indicative of a healthy dental hygiene.
However, oral health is not just about possessing a disarming smile. There’s much more to oral health than just having a pretty set of teeth.
Understanding Oral Health
When it comes to health, people often think about taking care of the heart, controlling their diet, being on a healthy regimen, and the like. Incidentally, there’s a low number of people who talk about oral health. A heart attack sounds more serious than a toothache, after all.
This kind of mindset, however, can potentially lead to a number of serious health implications—some of which goes even beyond your mouth. While this is a well-placed and understandable thought, oral hygiene is more than just brushing and flossing your teeth.
Indeed, brushing and flossing your teeth are irreplaceable components of a good and healthy oral health regimen. But simply doing these two steps won’t be enough. It won’t help you maintain a well-rounded and healthy oral hygiene practice.
To elaborate, the oral-facial system is the collective and interrelated setup of the mouth, the lips, the gums, the teeth, and other muscle groups in the face that allow humans to chew, speak, smile, alongside other initial digestive functions. Considering that the mouth is usually the first step in nourishment, this part of your face plays a major role when it comes to health.
Moreover, the orofacial system regulates the microbiota inside the mouth, which does a lot of work in relation to preserving and maintaining the homeostasis of the mouth. Not taking care of this system properly will lead to a myriad of health issues, such as cancer, inflammation of blood vessels, bone loss, and high blood pressure.
Visiting A Dentist
While there’s no exact number on how frequent you should go see a dentist, twice a year or once every six months are the two common instances that most people do. However, present and chronic dental issues must be taken into consideration in increasing or maintaining those number of visits.
Age should also be factored in when you book your regular dental checkups. Children arguably require more frequent checkups with their dentists, especially those in their formative years. Regular visits to the dentist are a great way to teach your little ones the importance of oral health.
Moreover, visiting a dentist can help you gain some insights into your current oral health needs. Dentists do more than a check-up and deep cleaning; they also give you detailed and tailored advice on how you can take care of and maintain your pearly whites. To know more, you can visit reliable websites, such as https://www.thevillagedentalcenter.com/.
At this point, we’ve now established oral health as a system and its significance. But to further elaborate, continue reading to learn about the ways in which oral health affects overall wellness.
The Pain Of A Toothache
In the past, you’ve probably had a tooth or two extracted because of decay or other dental causes. While there’s relief in having them removed, a toothache is not as simple as feeling a sharp pain around your teeth.
The pain of a toothache ranges from a scale of mild to a scale of praying to a number of saints to make the pain go away. Some types of pain are also sharp, throbbing, or a combination of the two. These pain levels distract people and negatively affect their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
It’s easy to downplay the effect of toothache as a minor incident that will go away eventually by taking pain relief medicines and brushing your teeth. While there’s some truth in that, a toothache is one of the last things in oral health that you should overlook.
Having a toothache is indicative of having underlying gum issues, a broken tooth, or in some cases, an infection. Ignoring the problem may cause some of these underlying health issues to worsen over time.
Moreover, having frequent toothaches tells a lot about your dental hygiene. In most obvious cases, it shows that you don’t brush or floss your teeth regularly, which can lead to plaque build-up and excessive bacterial growth. It also indicates that you’re not brushing your teeth properly and that you’re missing certain areas of the mouth, which you need to properly clean.
To avoid these, brushing, flossing, as well as using a mouthwash is encouraged. The bristles of the toothbrush are relatively short, and the height of the teeth vary. The teeth also have a crooked and compact structure, which makes it even harder for the bristles and the floss to reach.
The Oral Microbiota
The mouth is a concert venue filled with different microbiomes. Some of these are naturally occurring ones and are relatively ‘good’ while others pose health issues that can lead to serious, chronic health conditions, such as tooth loss and gum disease. These commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microbiomes work interdependently to maintain the oral homeostasis.
However, when this balance is tipped, health issues that extend to other bodily systems begin to surface. Ensuring that these microbiomes are regulated properly can greatly decrease the chances of contracting other serious diseases.
For you to understand better, the bacterial ecosystem inside the mouth is complicated. Different bacterial groups, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms live in different regions of the mouth. Some live in the palate, the tongue, and the gums whereas others live near the throat and the tonsils.
These different microbiomes help protect the mouth from preventing an excessively bad bacterial growth and maintaining the acidity of the saliva, which contributes to an increase in the beneficial bacteria. Excessive growth of bad bacteria can alter the microbiome equilibrium, which is one of the main causes of tooth decay or dental caries, plaque build-up, and other gum infections.
Knowing how the elements inside the mouth live will help you see how you can live more healthily. Altering some aspects of your lifestyle that directly and negatively impact the beneficial microbiomes in your mouth can help you avoid dental issues too.
For instance, a sugar-rich diet eventually becomes food to harmful bacteria. Sugar increases the acidity of these bacteria, thereby, dissolving the enamel that coats the teeth. This leads to dental caries or decay, causing pain, infection, and other serious dental concerns. On the other hand, going for a fiber-rich diet strikes a balance in your oral health, as well as aids digestion.
Another lifestyle factor is smoking. Not only does smoking result in chronic lung diseases, but it also decreases the oxygen count inside the mouth and increases the acidity of the saliva. This can kill good bacteria, as well as corrode the enamel, which is why smokers often have yellow teeth.
Here’s a list of other several unhealthy habits that contribute to poor oral health:
- Drinking alcohol – Excessive consumption of alcohol increases the growth of gram-positive bacteria, which can lead to plaque build-up and dental caries.
- Consuming acidic foods – Acidic foods erode the coating of the teeth, leading to yellow teeth.
- Consuming antibiotics irresponsibly – Aside from the pressing and problematic antibiotic resistance, antibiotics can remodel the bacterial ecosystem in the mouth, thereby, tipping off oral homeostasis.
Oral Health And Overall Health
In relation to the bacterial ecosystem inside the mouth, several chronic diseases were found to be linked to oral health.
Since the mouth is one of the passages where a number of macro- and microorganisms enter the body, having a poor oral health can give several bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi a free pass to other bodily systems. These bad bacteria will obviously do a number of harmful things, but more than that, they can also come in undetected, especially when people often overlook their oral health.
In some studies, poor oral health, or more specifically gum infections, have a connection to certain cardiovascular diseases. While infected gums don’t cause heart diseases, avoiding them eventually leads to heart disease. The pathogens that attack your gums go inside your body through the bloodstream.
This will cause the immune system to fight the foreign microorganisms, which creates inflammations and makes you feverish. And for those with an artificial heart valve, this is all the more serious and fatal, since the bacteria can colonize the organ.
In some cases, the inflammations can even adversely affect a healthy pregnancy. More specifically, periodontal infections increase the levels of prostaglandin. These are lipids that induce labor (among other functions) and can increase the chances of having a premature labor.
Furthermore, gum pathogens are found to be related to rheumatoid arthritis, most especially when caused by porphyromonas gingivalis. This bacterium is also associated with esophageal and pancreatic cancer, as well as atherosclerosis or plaque build-up in the walls of the artery.
In addition, for people who are diagnosed with diabetes, periodontal infections can worsen the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Conversely, people who have diabetes make it hard for the body to address gum infections. Therefore, periodontal infections and diabetes create a mutual relationship in which they negatively impact your overall health.
Aside from these, poor oral health is found to have a link with pneumonia. Staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosa are two common bacteria that can cause pneumonia. Poor oral health increases the chance of these two bacteria being aspirated into the lower airway of the lungs, which increases the risk of pneumonia.
Oral Health And Mental Health
The bacterial composition inside the mouth is technically what makes oral health impactful on the overall physical health. However, improving your oral health also has a relationship with maintaining a good mental health.
Having a great smile—one that makes you feel confident—is as good as having an effective and strong dental regimen. Other people may downplay the cosmetic use of oral health, but the relationship between dental and mental health goes beyond aesthetics.
For instance, people with oral health issues, specifically dental caries, have higher chances of being less confident about their smiles and in themselves.
If not addressed immediately, oral health issues can lead to a psychopathological disorder, such as anxiety disorders. Some may even develop body dysmorphic disorders or clinical depression.
Depression, for instance, can cause anhedonia or a significant loss of feeling pleasure. This can impair the person’s reward system. Hence, doing activities, such as practicing a healthy and effective oral hygiene, will no longer feel rewarding.
The lack of gratification from day-to-day activities worsens the poor oral health of the person, as well as creates a cycle of negative mental and dental health. The same is true of people who suffer from eating disorders.
People with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or pica have unhealthy eating habits, which can damage the orofacial system, particularly the teeth and gums. People who engage in binge eating, which is a common symptom of bulimia nervosa, may not think of the effects the food they consume have on their teeth and gums. An unhealthy oral regimen creates an opportunity of distressing you while poor mental health leads to a list of unhealthy practices that cause poor dental health.
The effects of a good oral health on the overall physical and mental health are not causal. This means that improving your oral health will help prevent other general health issues.
Remember that there’s a correlation between dental health and other systemic diseases. Therefore, you’ll need to ensure that you brush and floss your teeth regularly and visit your dentist.