brushing teeth | good oral hygiene | oral hygiene routine

Why a Good Oral Hygiene Routine is So Critical

One of the first things people notice when you enter a room is your smile! And that split second can determine what people think of you, too. So, it’s important that the impression you give is a happy, positive one! It sends the message that you care about your dental health as well as your overall health since they affect each other in significant ways. 

Your mouth and specifically your teeth make up your smile. So it is critical that your oral hygiene routine is consistent and thorough every day. This routine includes brushing, flossing, using mouthwash, and visiting your dentist twice a year for regular checkups.

In this article, we will discuss precisely what oral hygiene is and the reasons your routine is so important to your overall health. It’s easy to get sidetracked from taking care of your teeth, so we will also provide some tips that will help you keep your teeth healthy every day.

What is Oral Hygiene?

Oral hygiene refers to keeping your mouth clean and disease-free. It includes consistent preventative actions like brushing and flossing your teeth as well as maintaining a twice-yearly schedule of dental exams with X-rays and cleanings.

The key to quality oral hygiene is working these actions into your daily routine. It isn’t possible for your dentist to maintain your total oral hygiene with just visits to his office every six months or so. Incorporating a solid routine that works for you at home is a large part of the entire picture of your oral hygiene program.

Relationship Between Oral Health and Overall Health

The relationship between your oral health and your overall health is one of synergy. Maintaining one–or neglecting one–will have a direct impact on the other. 

For example, daily brushing and flossing of your teeth help keep bacteria in the mouth under control. Without good oral hygiene, the bacteria grows and begins to enter the rest of the body through the digestive and respiratory tracts. Gum disease, or periodontitis, lowers the body’s resistance to infection and can cause other conditions to worsen. And, in turn, diseases like diabetes and HIV/AIDS make oral health problems even worse.

Here are some conditions that are affected by your oral health:

  • Cardiovascular disease: Clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke are sometimes linked to the inflammation and infections caused by uncontrolled oral bacteria.
  • Endocarditis: This infection happens when bacteria travels to your heart from another part of your body such as your mouth. It affects the lining of the heart or valves.
  • Pregnancy and birth complications: Gum disease has been linked to low birth weight and premature birth.
  • Pneumonia: Bacteria in your mouth can reach your lungs, causing respiratory diseases like pneumonia. 

These are some of the diseases that can negatively affect your oral health:

  • Diabetes: Gum disease is more frequent among people who have diabetes.
  • Osteoporosis: This disease is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. 
  • Alzheimer’s disease: As this disease progresses, patients also experience worsening oral health.

Eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, some types of cancers, and Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth, have all been shown to be linked to oral health, also. 

These two systems–oral health and overall health–work in tandem. We can’t examine one without also examining the other. 

The Effects of Medication on Oral Health

Along with diseases come medications to control those conditions. It is essential to report to your dentist all medications taken as well as changes in those medications over time. Certain medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, reduce the production of saliva in your mouth. As a matter of fact, over 400 medications can lead to dry mouth, also known as xerostomia.

Saliva acts as a natural cleanser in your mouth by washing food away and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria. This protects your entire body from microbes that begin to multiply if left in the mouth, leading to systemic diseases as discussed in the previous section. Without this natural cleansing, your body is left open to the effects of a dry mouth.

Tips For Good Oral Hygiene

As we have seen in this article, there are larger consequences for your overall health if you forget to brush and floss regularly. Here is a good regimen to incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Twice-daily brushing for two minutes each time with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste is the bare minimum in an oral health routine.
  • Your toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months, more often if the bristles are worn.
  • Brush your tongue daily, too.
  • Floss daily.
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing. It is an added defense against bacteria.
  • Limit your sugar intake and eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Limit your intake of acidic drinks, like coffee and soda. The acid destroys tooth enamel.
  • Protect your teeth from injury. Use a mouthguard during sports play.
  • Don’t chew on foreign objects. 
  • Keep your dentist informed of all oral health problems as well as your overall health. 

Effective Oral Hygiene Habits Are Critical

A solid, consistent oral hygiene program has positive effects on your mouth and teeth as well as your entire body. If your oral health suffers, it has repercussions on your overall health. Diseases like diabetes and dementia can cause your oral health to suffer, too. By following the suggestions outlined in this article as well as allowing our experts at Strafford Dental Associates to become part of your oral health team, you will be protecting your overall health for a lifetime.

Strafford Dental Associates is the trusted local provider of dental services for patients from Wayne, PA, and the surrounding area. We can help you keep your oral health in the best condition possible.

If you have questions about maintaining a good oral hygiene routine or the products we recommend for use at home, contact us today!