How important is Oral Health to your Overall Health?
Fifty-seven percent of Canadians say their smile is important to them, yet shockingly only four percent follow the dentist-recommended oral care regimen of brushing, flossing and rinsing, according to Newswire.ca. Many cite time as the reason yet it takes three minutes a day to practise good oral health. Compare that to an hour in the gym or time spent at the salon and it seems like as small price to pay for a beautiful smile and more importantly good health. Maybe this is because Canadians don’t realize there’s a strong link between our overall health and our oral health and that gum disease can increase our risk for heart disease, stroke and more.
Fact: The World Health Organization, the Ontario government and data from international research continue to place emphasis on health prevention and the knowledge that “the public cannot be healthy without oral health.”
Dental hygiene and disease prevention
Lifesaving Dental Hygienists?
We all want a whiter, brighter smile and to avoid cavities. While visits to a dental hygienist certainly provide both these things, did you know a visit can also save your life? According to dentalhygienecanada.ca, “Research shows that unchecked plaque on the teeth can lead to periodontal disease – and that is a risk factor for serious illnesses, such as diabetes, lung and heart diseases, and stroke.”
Dental hygienists access your complete oral health and surrounding tissues. While it was once believed the worst outcome of gum disease was tooth loss, research has now proven that oral infections have the potential to contribute to or cause other more serious health issues. Dental hygienists are integral to preventing gum disease and tooth decay, contributing to a patient’s overall well-being.
How does poor oral health contribute to disease?
The Oral Dental Hygienists Association (ODHA), says microorganisms are to blame. Bacteria from oral infections can enter the blood stream or airways and travel to other parts of the body potentially worsening or increasing the risk for other types of health problems such as heart disease, stroke and respiratory disorders.
Are you at risk?
Any one with periodontal disease is at risk of developing or worsening disease, but your risk increases if you have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes. Diabetics with cavities and gum disease suffer from strokes twice as often as those with good oral health. The ODHA states: “Oral infections can make it difficult to control diabetes and cause complications, since the bacteria from severe gum disease may increase both blood sugar levels and the length of time the body struggles with high blood sugar.” Pregnant women are also in a higher risk category as, “Bacteria from gum disease may trigger an inflammatory response that might induce premature labour and delivery.”
How a visit to the hygienist can save your life
What does a dental hygienist do?
As important members of the oral healthcare team, a dental hygienist’s primary concern is promoting good oral health. They also access for oral cancer and periodontal disease which is linked to more serious health concerns as we’ve discussed above.
With regular, professional scaling, dental hygienists can help control the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay which can lead to these more serious health concerns. The dental hygienist is highly skilled to examine your mouth, head, and neck and can recommend preventive treatments such as dental sealants or fluoride, and can even alert you when further care from a specialist may be warranted.
What does a visit to the dental hygienist involve?
- Reviewing the client’s medical history to make sure there are no medical conditions that could affect treatment
- Examining the head, neck and mouth including teeth, gums and tongue, which includes oral cancer screening to detect anything unusual such as a sore or lesion that may indicate early stages of oral cancer
- Using a dental hygiene instrument (periodontal probe) to measure pockets and documenting the findings
- Scaling teeth to remove plaque bacteria and hardened or calcified plaque buildup (tartar)
- Providing education and counselling on oral disease prevention and sun safety
What can I do to prevent gum disease?
Remember that survey, where only four percent of Canadians flossed? In addition to regular visits to your hygienist, you can practise proper oral care at home. With regular and effective oral care, gum disease can be prevented, controlled or even reversed. Here’s your chance to improve those survey results for next year. Dentalhygeinecanada.ca outlines this plan for daily oral hygiene and preventative maintenance between visits:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily.
- Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash once a day.
- Eat healthy foods and avoid sugary treats.
- Eliminate tobacco use.
- Schedule regular dental visits.
Be proactive with your oral health, it can affect so much more than your mouth and teeth. With good oral hygiene and our dental hygiene services you can prevent many of the health issues discussed in this blog and reverse gum disease. Contact us to make your appointment today!
FUN FACTS BEFORE YOU GO
- Tooth enamel is the hardest thing in the human body.
- The average person spends about 39 days in a lifetime (70 years) brushing their teeth.
- We produce enough saliva in our lives to fill up 2 swimming pools.
- We have about 9,000 taste buds