The Dangers of Poor Oral Health
Before we can fully appreciate the importance of maintaining good dental hygiene, we must first understand the severity of the conditions that result from not maintaining it.
Cavities are the first and least severe impact of poor dental hygiene. But left unchecked, cavities can eat away at teeth to the point that a mere filling will not suffice (the tooth will have to be extracted, permanently lost). Or, a cavity may destroy the inner "pulp" of your tooth and require a root canal and a dental crown.
Periodontal (gum) disease is another common and potentially dangerous result of poor dental hygiene. When food particles and plaque encrust on your gums and between your teeth, they feed bacteria that in turn infect and destroy gum tissue. Your gum line can recede, exposing tooth roots to decay, and teeth may eventually fall out as a result. Periodontal infections and inflammations can also spread disease, via your bloodstream, to other parts of your body.
Tooth loss is a reality for most seniors (65 and older) and for many middle-aged adults. It typically stems from poor oral and dental hygiene. The results go far beyond a "gappy" smile; they also include difficulty chewing and speaking, poor digestion, loss of bone and gum tissue, and "drifting" of teeth adjacent to the missing tooth.
The worst-case scenario that poor oral hygiene can bring would certainly be oral cancer. Smoking, drinking, and excessive sun exposure increase your risk of oral cancer, but a quarter of sufferers cannot trace the cancer's origins to those causes. And while good dental hygiene cannot 100% prevent oral cancer, it certainly reduces its likelihood.
Preventing Oral Problems Through Proper Dental Hygiene
The oral problems listed above are severe enough to make us all take note and get serious about regular dental hygiene.
It’s true that other causes, like cracking a tooth in a sports accident or being genetically predisposed, can also play a role and it isn’t always the case that someone who doesn't brush or floss regularly will get gum disease. The point is that you greatly decrease your odds of falling prey to any of these problems when you practice good oral hygiene. Way to do that include:
- Brush and floss at least every morning and night and preferably after each meal.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Always brush your tongue since it is a "haven of bacteria."
- Eat less sugary foods/drinks, and eat apples, carrots sticks, and other natural foods that scrape plaque off your teeth.
- Be sure you are getting plenty of vitamin C, calcium and potassium, and other nutrients since these will strengthen your gums and teeth.
- If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. Smoking often leads to gum disease, tooth loss, or even oral cancer.
To learn more about how you can benefit from proper oral hygiene, contact periodontist Dr. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, Florida, or schedule an oral-exam appointment.