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How does dental hygiene affect your overall health?

Good oral hygiene helps you keep your mouth healthy by preventing dental decay and gum disease. Today, our Ottawa dentists share how your oral hygiene habits can be beneficial to your overall health.

Practicing good oral hygiene is one reasonably reliable predictor of better dental health outcomes. This means you are more likely to keep your teeth as you age if you have good oral hygiene habits. Because dental health can impact overall physical well-being, good oral hygiene practices can have a positive impact on your overall health.

How Your Salivary Flow Plays a Part

Saliva is a helpful diagnostic tool, in that it can help doctors and dentists to identify and diagnose systemic diseases before their symptoms become apparent.

In addition, saliva can help disable bacteria and viruses before they enter your system. In fact, saliva is one of your body’s main defences against disease-causing organisms.

Saliva contains antibodies that attack viral pathogens, such as the common cold and even HIV. It also contains enzymes that destroy bacteria in several different ways, for instance by degrading bacterial membranes, disrupting vital bacterial enzyme systems, and inhibiting the growth and metabolism of some bacteria.

Keeping your salivary flow healthy is quite easy for most people. The key is to stay hydrated! Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain a healthy salivary flow.

Dental Plaque & Infection

Your mouth houses over 500 species of bacteria that are constantly forming dental plaque.

You’re allowing dental plaque to build up between your gums and teeth if you don't brush and floss regularly, eventually leading to a gum infection called gingivitis. Gingivitis can lead to a more serious infection called periodontitis (gum disease) if not cared for.

If your immune system is healthy, the presence of oral bacteria in your bloodstream will not cause problems. However, if it has been weakened, for example by a disease or by cancer treatment, oral bacteria in your bloodstream may cause you to develop an infection in another part of your body.

Infective endocarditis (which is when oral bacteria enter the bloodstream and stick to the lining of diseased heart valves) is an example of this.

Common Conditions Caused by Plaque Buildup

Having a healthy mouth may help you ward off certain diseases and medical problems such as stroke, heart attack, complications related to diabetes, and even pre-term labour.

Cardiovascular Disease

Bacteria in the mouth may cause inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries, meaning gingivitis may play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots.

In addition, gum disease and tooth loss may contribute to the development of plaques in the carotid artery.

Diabetes Complications

Diabetes may be more difficult to control if you have chronic gum disease. The infection may cause insulin resistance, which can disrupt blood sugar control.

Are you looking to book an appointment for an oral examination and cleaning? Contact our Ottawa dentists today.

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