It is well understood that poor oral hygiene and infrequent visits to the dentist can put you at a higher risk for developing oral diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease, but what about the rest of your body? The mouth is often thought of a separate entity, but in reality it is the entryway to the rest of your body. Conditions that arise in your mouth can affect your body as a whole, and conditions that arise elsewhere in the body can affect or manifest themselves in your mouth. Diabetics, for example, are at a higher risk for developing gum disease as high blood sugar levels can lead to inflammation. With diabetes, it is a two-way street in which diabetes can affect your gum health, and your gum health can affect your diabetes. Healthy gums have actually been shown to help with blood sugar control and decrease the progression of the disease. Poor oral health has also been linked to heart problems.
Your saliva is a critical component in help decrease the risk for developing oral diseases, but a side effect of many medications is dryness of the mouth. Saliva is needed to help hydrate the tissues and wash harmful, decay-inducing bacteria from our teeth. With reduced saliva, those with dry mouth are at a higher risk for developing tooth decay and gum inflammation. Therefore, good home care and regular visits to the dentist are critical to help prevent any harmful effects of dry mouth.
So, what can you do to help maintain a good, healthy mouth?
- See us regularly for your dental exams and cleanings, and if any concerns arise in between regular appointments, don’t hesitate to call us!
- We recommend fluoride treatments at your dental cleanings to help prevent tooth decay
- Brush at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste – if you can brush after every time you eat, even better!
- Floss at least once daily
- Limit snacking throughout the day – the more often we eat, the more acidic our saliva becomes, and bacteria that causes tooth decay thrives in acidic environments.
- Limit sugary foods and carbohydrates
- Stay hydrated! Water is an excellent choice to keep the tissues hydrated and wash food away from the teeth
- Chewing sugar free gum containing xylitol helps stimulate saliva and prevents tooth decay