Weekly Wellness: October is Dental Hygiene Month
COLUMBIA- A beautiful smile is much more important than you think. The importance of proper dental care habits (like brushing and flossing) is bigger than just your smile. Oral health plays a critical role in some systemic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, and oral health complications during pregnancy.
Diabetics are more prone to several oral health conditions, including tooth decay, periodontal (gum) disease, dry mouth and infection. Diabetic patients should contact their dentist immediately if they observe any of the symptoms of periodontal disease, including red, swollen or sore gums or gums that bleed easily or are pulling away from the teeth; chronic bad breath; teeth that are loose or separating; pus appearing between the teeth and gums; or changes in the alignment of the teeth.
Studies also have shown that periodontal disease may be linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, preterm births and low-birth weight babies. Research suggests that people with periodontal disease are nearly three times as likely to suffer from heart disease. Oral bacteria can affect the heart when it enters the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the heart’s blood vessels and contributing to the formation of clots.
Pregnant women are at greater risk to develop inflamed gums, which if left untreated can lead to periodontal disease. A five-year study conducted at the University of North Carolina found that pregnant women with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to deliver a premature, low-birth-weight baby.
Oral health problems can lead to difficulty speaking, chewing and swallowing, affecting your ability to consume the nutrition your body needs to stay healthy, participate in daily activities and interact with others. Poor nutrition also can lead to tooth decay and obesity. In a recent study, researchers examined 65 children, ages two through five, who were treated for cavities in their baby teeth. Nearly 28 percent of them had a body-mass index indicating they were either overweight or obese.
To keep your teeth, gums and body healthy:
- Provide your dentist with a complete health history, including any illnesses and medication use.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily to help remove plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that gets stuck between your teeth and under your gums.
- Visit your dentist regularly for a checkup and professional cleaning to help prevent any problems and detect possible problems in their early stages. The mouth is often the location used to diagnose a variety of diseases.
- Eat a well-balanced diet, which will help you maintain a healthier immune system, help prevent heart disease and slow diabetes disease progression.
- If you smoke, talk to your dentist about options for quitting.