Proper care of oral cavities is an important element of a person’s physical health, but unfortunately, it is not given the attention that it deserves. There is also a lot of misunderstanding about proper oral care, with most people believing that regular brushing of teeth is enough.
This is why oral health issues are causing more than $120 billion in medical expenses each year in the US alone. In just the past 12 months, almost 50% of American adults have experienced pain in parts of their mouths. In addition, almost 90% of Americans have a high chance of developing at least one cavity before they turn 40.
How Does Oral Care Affect Physical Health
Put simply, proper oral care involves more than just brushing your teeth regularly. You must include your whole oral-facial system to keep your entire mouth in good condition. This includes the gums and the other muscles that are used when you smile, talk, or chew.
“Understanding oral hygiene basics allow people to better care for their teeth. Starting good oral hygiene habits early in life can set everyone up for a lifetime of not only healthy smiles but also healthy bodies,” says Dr. Phil Ra, a Dentist in Upland. In fact, a couple of chronic health issues from different parts of the body could be traced back to improper or insufficient oral care.
There have been cases where oral care has been associated with certain chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart problems. This is because bacteria can enter the body through the mouth before eventually spreading to the blood as well as the digestive and respiratory tracts.
It can also happen the other way around, where other health problems cause issues with one’s oral cavities. An example would be diabetes or HIV patients who would develop oral health concerns. Lifestyle and habits play a role in keeping a healthy oral-facial system as well but having regular dental check-ups contribute to early detection, which can prevent symptoms from escalating and creating greater health issues down the line.
Dangers Of Improper Oral Care
Improper or insufficient care of the oral-facial system can lead to serious consequences on your body and quality of life. Here are four chronic problems that could result from a lack of proper oral care:
1. Tooth Decay
Tooth cavities develop quickly near the gums and along the teeth crevices due to the accumulation of plaque where bacteria grow and thrive. The acids released by the bacteria then break down the enamel and the root of teeth, which causes decay.
Other than improper oral hygiene, the excess amounts of carbohydrates in your diet can lead to the production of this acid. If left unaddressed, the decay can cause severe damage to the gums as well as other parts of the body, sometimes even leading to fatal results.
2. Gum Swelling And Disease
Gum problems usually start with minor concerns in the oral cavity that get worse over time. But while they can become chronic infections, issues like swelling and inflammation of the gums could easily be prevented or managed through proper hygiene. This means that brushing of teeth must be complemented with regular flossing as well as consistent dental cleanings and dental check-ups.
The oral cavities can easily cultivate bacteria that target the gums and the soft tissues around the mouth. In the early stages, gum bleeding and inflammation will occur to signify infection. Eventually, as the plaque spreads on your teeth, the bacteria will produce more acid that damages the enamel, eventually leading to decay. In severe cases, the bones and tissues around the oral cavity get corroded, resulting in tooth loss.
3. Heart Problems
Medical studies discovered that oral bacteria have the potential to cause certain heart problems, such as when the arteries and the blood flow to the brain become blocked. This occurs when the bacteria in the oral cavity body enter the bloodstream.
In some cases, oral bacterial infections have turned into rare but life-threatening diseases. Endocarditis is one possible result, which happens when the bacteria present in the blood eventually reach the heart and infect its inner linings.
4. Oral Cancer
Cancer can develop in any area of the oral-facial system, like the lips, oropharynx, and other parts of the oral cavities. Globally, this type of cancer occurs in about 1 out of every 25,000 people. It also tends to develop more frequently in men and in senior citizens.
While this type of cancer is more commonly caused by HIV infection as well as excessive tobacco or alcohol consumption, poor oral care could also increase an individual’s risk factor. Because the human immunodeficiency virus thrives in the tongue and the tonsils, poor oral hygiene allows the virus to remain in the oral cavity long enough to cause changes in the cells and tissues around the mouth.