Health is the most popular topic of all right now as our world faces an unprecedented viral outbreak in COVID-19. As we consider this year’s World Oral Health Day, we must remember that oral health is an important part of overall health. If your mouth is not healthy, then you are not healthy. If you are not healthy, you are more vulnerable to infection with COVID-19.
How Does Oral Health Impact Overall Health
Over the last several decades, scientific research has proven over and over that the diseases of the mouth are linked to other diseases in the body. In particular, people who suffer from chronic dental disease are at a higher risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease! Some studies also show a link between chronic inflammation and an increased risk for many types of cancer.
Having chronic infectious and inflammatory diseases in the mouth (like untreated cavities and gum disease) places a heavy burden on your body’s immune system. We like to use the analogy of the immune system being our body’s army or defense. As in any battle, fighting on multiple fronts makes it more difficult for you to overcome any of your enemies. Because almost all oral health problems are preventable, let’s just remove that enemy from the battlefield!
How to Prevent Dental Diseases and Promote Oral Health
There are several steps you can take in order to take control of your oral health! You can start immediately on steps one and two! While step three may be impossible during the current days of social distancing and stopping the spread, it is important to remember that preventive dental care is a major step in maintaining great oral health. As soon as we are able to return to standard dental office operations, we are committed to ensuring your ability to receive the preventive care that you and your family need.
With some extra time on your hands, maybe now is the time to brush up on your oral hygiene routine (pun intended). Ask yourself these questions.
- Are you brushing your teeth after breakfast every morning and before bed every night?
- Do you brush for at least two minutes, using a soft toothbrush in small circular motions to cover every exposed tooth surface?
- Do you floss every night?
- Really? Every night?
- Are you using mouthwash as directed by Dr. Jill or Dr. Cara? (Not everyone needs the same type of mouthwash, so knowing which mouthwash to use is just as important as actually using it….)
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then you now have an easy starting point. Stay tuned for an article on how to select the right mouthwash for your specific oral health needs.
Your diet plays in important in your oral health. Most everyone knows that foods and drinks high in sugar are bad for your teeth. Did you know that any acidic drink (not just soda) is bad for your teeth? This includes coffee, sparkling water, sports drinks, and alcohol.
In addition to cutting out sugar, eating a healthy balance of fats and proteins is also beneficial for your teeth. Snacks like nuts and cheese are far better for your teeth than chips and crackers. Adding in complex carbs like raw veggies can help satisfy carb cravings without putting your teeth at risk for cavities.
The final, and maybe most important, aspect of the diet that impacts your oral health is HYDRATION. Dehydration, whether caused by a lack of fluid intake or a side effect of prescription medication, leads to dry mouth, and dry mouth is disastrous to oral health. We are constantly advising our patients to drink plenty of water. Not only does it help your body produce saliva, it moisturizes the oral tissues and protects you against mouth sores, ulcerations, and fungal infections.
Again, we know that this may be impossible in the near future. We just want to make sure that, with all the many items on your to do list once life returns to normal, a dental visit remains on the list! If this hiatus causes you and your family to miss your professional teeth cleaning appointments, we will work to reschedule you as soon as we are able.
We remain available for emergency dental treatment. We are committed to our role in protecting our patients against painful or life-threatening dental infections and keeping dental problems from clogging up our already-overburdened emergency rooms and urgent care facilities. If you or a loved one have a dental concern, and you are not sure whether it is an emergency, call our office at 972-347-1145. After a short phone consultation, we can advise you to come see us if necessary. We can also provide helpful information for you to manage things that do not warrant an in-person visit.