Your oral health has a bigger impact on your overall health than most people realise.According to the Academy of General Dentistry, 90% of all systematic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms. Your mouth is a window into the health of the rest of your body. When your oral health is poor, it is likely that your general health will be poor as well. This is why doctors will often test your saliva for a variety of factors. Monitoring of osteoporosis, detection of cancers, hepatitis, HIV, Parkinson’s, and diabetes can all be achieved through a saliva sample.
Saliva is importantSaliva is a main line of defence when it comes to bacteria and viruses. Your saliva is full of antibodies that defend you against things like the common cold. It also contains enzymes which fight against all sorts of disease-causing bacteria.
PlaqueHowever, your saliva is not invincible. When there too many bacteria in your mouth, it can form plaque, which clings to your teeth and gums. If left to its own devices, this build-up of bacteria can cause all sorts of problems. Aside from inhibiting your immune system, it can cause great damage to your teeth and gums. Tooth decay and gum disease can lead to major illness and tooth loss. In some severe cases, if any open wounds are present within the mouth these bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and stick to the lining of heart valves, thereby damaging them, and creating other heart issues.
Oral diseaseWithout proper oral hygiene and a healthy diet, you can put your oral health in jeopardy. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in two 12-year-olds have had tooth decay in their permanent teeth. Furthermore, three in ten adults have untreated tooth decay. Tooth decay leads to cavities, and if left untreated can infect the gums or cause tooth loss. Ultimately that kind of damage can affect your bite, and lead to unwanted side effects such as jaw joint issues, hearing problems and headaches.
Oral hygieneThankfully, keeping your mouth healthy isn’t so hard. There are a few simple things that you can do to ensure you are practising correct oral hygiene.
- Brushing – It may seem like an obvious step, however, many people aren’t brushing properly. To really look after your teeth and ensure that plaque isn’t taking over your mouth, you should brush twice a day. Aim for a time of two minutes when brushing.
- Flossing – This is a very important part of oral health. There are five surfaces to a tooth and brushing alone only reaches three. By flossing daily, you are able to reach those nooks and crannies in and around your teeth where plaque likes to build up.
- Diet – The less sugary and acidic foods and drinks you eat, the less likely you are to expose your teeth to cavities and decay. These foods break down the hard outer casing of your teeth, leaving them exposed to bacteria.
- Dental check-ups – Seeing the dentist regularly is important to maintaining oral health. Often, oral health issues are only physically detectable at very late stages. If a dentist is regularly examining your teeth, then they are more likely to identify any oral issues before they become severe.
- Palpitation of jaw joints, facial musculature and soft tissues
- Visual oral examination of lips, cheeks, tongue, hard, and soft palate
- Full examination of teeth and gums
- Appropriate radiographs
- Clinical photographs
- Study models of teeth and jaws if appropriate