Despite a variety of innovations in the field of oral health, it’s still something that everyone struggles with. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children aged 6 to 11 years. It’s also more common than diseases like asthma for teenagers. And over 90 percent of American adults struggle with cavities, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 Oral Health Surveillance Report.
Although it’s a slight decrease from the 92 percent in 2004, it’s still worrying. Over 26 percent of those cavities remain untreated, and dental caries can carry over to more significant complications.
Oral Health Complications
Your oral health is seen as a window to your overall health by medical experts. This is because your mouth is the entry point to your respiratory and digestive organs. If your mouth develops a disease, the rest of your body will be affected.
Some complications related to poor oral health include:
- Pneumonia – When bacteria builds up from tooth decay or gum disease, you could end up inhaling them. This causes the germs to infect your lungs and lead to inflammation of your respiratory system. This is called aspiration pneumonia and it can lead to painful symptoms such as coughing blood, wheezing, fatigue, shortness of breath, and difficulty swallowing.
- Heart diseases – If the infection on your teeth or gums is extreme, the germs could make their way into your bloodstream and make their way into your heart. Complications related to this include endocarditis., which happens when the inner lining of the heart gets infected. The inflammation that bacteria causes may also clog your arteries and cause a stroke.
- Pregnancy Problems – If you’re bearing a child, gum disease may also affect your pregnancy and your kid’s development. The American Academy of Periodontology stated that women with gum disease are more likely to suffer premature birth. They may also give birth to lower weight babies, compared to mothers with healthy gums.
- Complications with Diabetes – According to the Mayo Clinic, inflamed gum tissue can make it harder for your body to control your blood sugar. This can increase your risk of developing diabetes or make its symptoms way worse.
- Alzheimer’s disease – Gum disease is also linked to Alzheimer’s, according to a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers wanted to find out if gum disease and other oral bacteria infections were related to dementia deaths and diagnoses. It reviewed the records of over 6,000 participants with up to 26 years of follow-up. Their analysis revealed that senior citizens with symptoms of gum disease were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses.
However, it’s not clear whether oral disease precedes the participant’s dementia, as having Alzheimer’s disease may also impair their ability to brush and floss effectively. When this happens, their likelihood of developing gum disease and other infections increases as well.
The Best Oral Health Practices for Adults
Oral health greatly affects your overall health. As such, it’s important to keep your teeth, tongue, gums and cheeks healthy. Apart from visiting your cosmetic dentist, here are the best habits you should practice.
- Improve Your Brushing Technique – Even if you do brush your teeth twice a day, you may still end up with cavities if you have an ineffective technique. If you still get food stuck in between your teeth or bleeding gums after your brush, you’re doing it wrong. Start by using a soft-bristle toothbrush to gently clean where your tooth meets your gum. Do a circular and back and forth motion. Repeat this for other sides of your teeth.
- Take Flossing Seriously – Small chunks of food can still get stuck in between your teeth and under your gum line, even if you can’t feel them. Oftentimes, these fragments are too difficult for even the thinnest toothbrush bristles to handle. This is why flossing every night is essential. Use about 18 inches of floss so you can grip it between your fingers. Guide it in between your teeth and gently push and pull. Don’t let it fall below your gum line, as it may injure your gums. Floss after your after-dinner brushing routine, so you can take your time.
- Clean Your Toothbrush Regularly – Always rinse your toothbrush until it’s free from any toothpaste froth. And store it in an area where it can air dry. This is because putting a cover on a wet toothbrush or storing it in a case can encourage bacteria and mold growth.
Oral health is something that all adults should take seriously. When your mouth gets sick, the rest of your body follows suit. Avoid complications from tooth decay and gum disease by following these oral health suggestions. With a proper brushing and flossing routine, you’ll have a bright and healthy smile for the rest of your life.