Mouth Health: Portal To Overall Health

Mouth Health: Portal To Overall Health

Your mouth health is a not-so-secret portal to your overall health so Keep it tip-top

In recent years science has confirmed that even the health of our teeth and gums affect our overall health. Heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and many other disorders can all be affected by the health and wellness of teeth and gums in your mouth.

As we build healthy habits and healthy bodies, remember to be vigilant of effects on your mouth from common viruses that cause things like cold, flu and strep. Staying healthy and virus free can help keep your mouth healthier too.

Cold and flu viruses affect your oral health too

Flu and cold viruses are a part of life. We wash our hands, take vitamins, and try to stay healthy, inevitably the average adult will still get 2 to 4 colds per year. The full magnitude of the annual cold and flu season is often overlooked. However, in America, the cold virus alone, claims nearly 60 million sick days annually.

Viral infections and your oral health

  • Dry Mouth: Cold viruses, and many other viruses, dry out the oral cavity. The use of many medications that suppress runny noses and excess mucus, also contribute to drier mucus membranes. Many drugs may ultimately leave the mouth drier. Dry mouths are less slippery, allowing bacterial colonies to thrive.
    • Breathing from the mouth due to swollen, congested nasal passages also dries the oral membranes contributing further to dry mouth, and bad breath.
    • Individuals suffering from flu and cold viruses are especially prone to dehydration complicating dry mouth conditions.
  • Cough Drops and Medications: Sucking on cough drops, sipping ginger ale, even oral inhalers all adversely affect teeth and surrounding tissues.
    • Cough drops and throat lozenges, even cough syrup, are sticky and sweet. Sugar from these medications feed bacteria that cause decay and cavities.
    • Ginger ale and other fizzy drinks help with dehydration and nausea, they also create prime conditions for bacteria to thrive in.
    • Inhalers, used to help treat asthma, bronchitis, lung inflammation and COPD have medicine that dries surfaces in the mouth, creating areas ideal for bacteria to colonize.
    • To ward off the effects of these oral medications, rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after using them.  Stay adequately hydrated.

Sleep and fatigue are culprits too

  • Fatigue: Being over tired, lethargic and general malaise are all common Sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night reduces inflammation and improves overall health, improving oral health and reducing gum diseasesymptoms when battling a cold or flu virus. Forgo changing out of Pj’s but do not skip oral hygiene practices. Viruses attack the immunes system, dampening your body’s natural ability to combat infection and inflammation.
    • Sleep deprivation is a huge contributing factor in cases of gum disease and gingivitis. Don’t let being too tired influence your ability to maintain good brushing and flossing habits.

Good Oral Health Supports Good Overall Health

Recent studies support what clinicians have long suspected. Individuals who have unhealthy teeth and gums, tend to be less healthy overall. Higher rates of oral infections are linked to higher rates of bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, stroke and heart disease, for example.

The ideal time to improve your oral health is right now, but if you are sick or feeling under the weather, don’t neglect taking care of your oral hygiene.

Call or come in and make an appointment today and we can help you get your best oral health, and your brightest smile.

A Lifelong Healthy Smile

A Lifelong Healthy Smile

Get and Keep A Lifelong Healthy Smile

Your smile says a lot about you, not simply that you are confident or vivacious. Your smile can be a window to your overall health. Healthy gums support healthy teeth. If you have neglected to care for your gums and teeth, you may experience swollen, bleeding, even receding gums or loose teeth. Bad breath, or an unpleasant taste in your mouth may also plague you. All of these things can be a sign of gum disease.

Your To-Do List for a healthy smile

  • Don’t miss regular check-ups. An integral component of getting and maintaining healthy gums (the key to a lifelong healthy smile) is keeping plaque from accumulating on your teeth.  The sticky film, plaque, is produced when sugars and starches in food are metabolized by bacteria within the mouth. Plaque builds up between teeth and below the gumline around teeth. Eventually plaque causes inflammation and swelling. Left alone this will result in a deterioration of the bone and structures that hold teeth in place. Evidence suggests that gum disease may share a link with increased likelihood of systemic disease such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • Brush and Floss your teeth. Brushing and flossing remove food debris that bacteria use to thrive in the mouth. Fighting plaque is a constant battle as it starts to reaccumulate just hours after brushing. Brushing, including the tongue twice a day and flossing one time a day helps keep food particles from building up in the mouth. While flossing has been met with some recent controversy, experts say that flossing once a day difinitively removes particles between teeth and below gums that would otherwise feed plaque causing bacteria. Beware that smoking or chewing tobacco, stress, poor nutrition, substance abuse, diabetes, hormonal fluctuations, and certain medications can add to the risk of gum disease developing.
  • Drink and eat wisely. Water consumption adds to saliva. Slippery saliva helps keep bacteria and food from sticking to teeth. Eating whole, unprocessed foods–apples, salads, berries, pears, nuts, carrots, celery, for example–also help fortify and scrub teeth clean. Other foods like onion, cheese, and yogurt have other positive attributes from inhibiting halitosis causing bacteria, to contributing to remineralizing enamel.

Disease Progression

Gum disease has several stages, all of which gradually break down and steal a healthy smile

The mildest stage of gum disease, gingivitis, results from poor or inconsistent oral hygiene.  Gingivitis is a treatable and reversible form of gum disease. Gingivitis occurs when plaque accumulates and hardens over time. The chronic inflammation and bacterial process eventually break down and damage surrounding soft tissues. In order to properly treat gingivitis your dentist will clean the affected areas and remove plaque, depending on how significant the deposits of plaque are this stage could potentially be uncomfortable.

If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis, a more serious condition in which the bacteria in the mouth trigger a systemic immune response. The entire immune system kicks in to try and fight the substantial bacteria load inside the mouth. This progressive disease process can lead to damage jaw bone and connective tissue around the teeth.

Protect you healthy smile with daily maintenance and regular check-ups. You will be rewarded for your consistent efforts.

 

 

 

Perfecting Perfect Brushing Habits With Kids

Perfect Habits, Perfect Brushing, Perfect Smiles

Teaching kids, when they are young, to develop good brushing habits is time well invested. Removing the biofilm–daily–on teeth and oral surfaces, can lead to a lifetime of benefits, dental health being at the top of that list.

Forming positive habits can be a very natural, easy process with young children. Starting from the time they are infants, small children want to emulate their parents and those around them. Make brushing a family social event. Mom’s and dad’s who brush with their little ones around are sending a positive message that brushing is fun and easy.

Self Esteem Years Down the Road

Studies show people form an opinion about who you are in a matter of minutes and that one of the key factors in that judgment happens to be your smile.  What a valuable gift to help teach your children a lifelong, healthy habit that will continue to benefit them in a multitude of ways. Daily brushing ultimately reduces the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, improves long term overall health, and will ultimately reduce long-range cost associated with dental care, plus healthy, clean teeth just look really great!

Copy-Cats

Mother and daughter baby girl brushing their teeth together

Mother and daughter baby girl brushing their teeth together

For infants and children under two or three, simply let them mirror your behavior while brushing by providing an infant type of soft and safe toothbrushthere are numerous options–no toothpaste is required but if you do use one make sure to use one with no fluoride that is safe for infants and children.

Incentives

Children between three and four who are still working on good brushing habits still benefit from seeing you carry out your daily brushing but they are also easily influenced with a little incentivizing. Consider an extra story at night when they brush on their own. Even simple sticker charts for a week to five days in a row with a small prize at the end. Some ideas that might work in your family could be a sticker collection to add to, matchbox cars, hair ties or clips, special socks with favorite cartoon character, coloring pages or books, small puzzles, even a picking out a balloon when age appropriate and supervision are possible, maybe three minutes of screen time per brush works for your family. Find what works and fits into your family’s routine and natural routines.

Mother And Daughter Putting Star On Reward Chart

Mother And Daughter Putting Star On Reward Chart

Children bigger and older start having more dexterity and can do most of their brushing unassisted while younger kids may need you to follow behind them.  Older kids can also be taught to run their tongue on the surface of teeth to check for spots they missed. Clean teeth should feel slick and smooth with no rough areas.  By kindergarten children can be well on their way to initiating brushing all on their own. Keeping a brushing chart can help with stickers or a pen to add stars or checks when kids complete their morning and nighttime brushing. Though incentives can be helpful, by this age kids are also able to grasp concepts about their health and getting rid of germs that make cavities. Incentives, if needed, may only need implementing for good check-ups.

Keep a Running List of Ideas

These are just ideas intended to help increase brushing compliance in the entire household. Perhaps you will find that it’s helpful to change things up and stay creative. With some fortune you’ve found something useful here or you’re inspired or re-inspired with another tactic to help get brushing to be your kids new favorite habit. It’s worth the effort, the dividend will payout over an entire lifetime.

Twice yearly check-ups go hand in hand with perfect brushing habits and will help keep everyone in the family on track and ready to address problem areas often before decay encroaches. Give us a call today for questions or appointments.

Reach us at:   Marilyn K. Jones DDS      *      Houston’s Biological Dentist *      Address: 800 Bering Dr. Suite 204    *    Phone: (713)785-7767     *     Email: mjones@hal-pc.org