Oral Hygiene Techniques for Dental Health
Dental health and oral hygiene could have an impact on other areas and systems of the body. Oral hygiene is a regular habit that is easy enough to practice for preventive care. A regular brushing routine is one habit which is important to maintain dental health. It helps prevent plaque, which would otherwise cause tooth decay, freshens the breath, and can stave off gingivitis and other mouth diseases. If an electric toothbrush is not being used, it is important to brush manually in a circular motion. Both sides of the teeth, as well as the gum line, need to be brushed. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle. Also brush the tongue and roof of the mouth.1 A tongue scraper may help with cleaning the former. There are also water picks and other devices that can assist the patient in thoroughly cleaning the mouth.
Besides brushing at least twice a day, flossing is also a critical aspect of maintaining dental health. It is the primary means of defense against the development of periodontal disease and it can help prevent decay and cavities. Work the floss in the shape of a “C” around every single tooth. There are many varieties of floss: unwaxed/ waxed, flavored, and different thicknesses, including floss tape.2 Some people would rather use disposable floss picks or sword-shaped bristle floss. The latter can be especially helpful for those who must also wear braces. Unfortunately, there is a negative impact on the environment associated with the accumulation of used disposable plastic products, including floss picks.3
How Diet Can Positively and Negatively Affect Dental Health
Maintaining a diet which is rich in calcium, and vitamins C and D, is important for dental health. A steady supply of calcium gives the skeleton both structure and strength, and this includes the bones which are located inside the mouth. The consumption of milk, green leafy vegetables, fortified orange juice, and supplements are some ways to get calcium. Vitamin D is the sunlight vitamin, and just 15 minutes of direct exposure to the sun every day can help the body produce enough of the vitamin on its own. There are also D-fortified milks and supplements. A vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy (bleeding, sore gums). Cruciferous vegetables and citrus fruits, as well as supplements are good sources of Vitamin C.
Dentists recommend fluoride as well. This can be found in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and often in the drinking water. If a dentist finds a deficiency, they might offer a fluoride treatment, which is done at the dentist’s office. Cutting back on sugar can prevent cavities. Processed foods, complex carbohydrates and starches also contain sugar. Brushing and flossing regularly can help to remove these sugars from the teeth. Even drinking water immediately after eating foods which contain sugar could be beneficial until the patient has time to brush their teeth.4 Visiting the dentist twice a year is important so that they will be able to examine the mouth for signs of decay, cysts, and lesions. They can check for oral cancer as well. A professional cleaning will remove tartar buildup.5
Disorders of the Mouth
The mouth can have bacterial, viral, fungal infections, inflammatory problems, trauma, ulcers, or cancer. There may also be jaw problems, such as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD), which can cause pain in the mouth, jaw, and headaches. Chiropractors can be particularly helpful in treating those who suffer from symptoms like persistent head and neck pain, such as the kind which results from TMJD. Chiropractors may help treat disorders and make recommendations for lifestyle changes which the patient can try to prevent future issues from developing. Some patients may have bruxism, which is an involuntary, habitual habit of teeth grinding. Others could have progressive gum disease or tooth loss. Oral cancer can develop as a result of the patient’s own actions, such as smoking, infection from the human papillomavirus (HPV), and excessive alcohol use.
Canker sores and herpes are other mouth infections. Some patients will need to wear mouth guards when they sleep or other oral devices to help with managing their disorders, especially those issues which are associated with involuntary actions. Allergies, anxiety, depression, stress, and hormones can all impact the health of the mouth. Invasive medical procedures may be necessary in the more severe cases of dental health issues. This is when treatments like root canals and cancer treatment become necessary.6 Some mouth problems can be signs of other systemic issues. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) could cause mouth ulcers and tooth problems.7 Heart disease could be predicted by the presence of gum disease, missing teeth, and cavities. Certain bacteria in the mouths of some patients may indicate that they are at an increased likelihood of having atherosclerosis affecting the carotid artery in the neck.8
Learn more about how to treat jaw problems.