The Consequences of Poor Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene has more than just cosmetic value. We now have a myriad of scientific literature on how poor oral health can adversely affect your overall health. In fact, some sources have called oral hygiene a window to your overall health, and a complete oral examination makes an important part of any physical examination.

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With the proper use of brushing, flossing, mouth spray and dental mouthwash, good oral hygiene can be achieved. This will, at least in some part, reduce your risk of getting some related fatal conditions that we will discuss in a bit.

Health-conscious individuals understand the importance of oral hygiene and make it a prime priority. That means no skimping out on your brushing and no compromise on purchasing the very best mouthwash that you can.

What Does a Complete Oral Examination Comprise Of?

An oral cavity examination isn’t just something that will be performed at a dentist’s clinic; it also holds in importance in any general physical examination at any doctor’s office. This is done to get a preliminary insight into the rest of your body health. A complete oral cavity evaluation will look at:

  • The condition of your teeth: Your doctor will note any missing, cracked or broken teeth along with any evidence of cavities, extractions or fillings.
  • The condition of your gums: Using a special retracting tool, the doctor will carefully examine all the area of the gums around your teeth for any signs of infection or disease.
  • The tongue: Both the front surface and the underside of the tongue will be examined for signs of anemia, jaundice and cyanosis.
  • Other adjacent structures: This can include the soft and the hard palates, the tonsils and any other area that requires attention.

Your overall hygiene will also be noted by the doctor as it can give an insight into your health status.

How Can Poor Dental Hygiene Affect Your Body?

You might be surprised to know that there are a number of diseases that are directly or indirectly associated with poor dental care. This could be a result of a direct infection originating from the teeth or the gums, or this could simply be an association or a result of neglect.

Heart problems:

Heart diseases have become increasingly common in the last few decades and that’s mainly because of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary habits. However, your oral health can also play a role in the development of certain heart conditions.

Infective endocarditis is an infection or inflammation of the inner lining of your heart and your heart valves. The root of the infection is usually viral or bacterial originating from an external source. This source could be a gum or an unattended tooth infection. The bacteria can spread from the mouth via the bloodstream to the heart and manifest as endocarditis. If untreated, infective endocarditis can have serious consequences, therefore prompt medical attention and treatment are necessary.

There is also substantial evidence that infection from the gums and teeth can travel to the coronary arteries of the heart, and cause plaque formation. This plaque acts as a blockade to the blood flow to the heart and can increase your risk of a heart attack.

Memory problems:

It has been observed that the elderly age group has poorer oral health than the rest of the population. This poor dental hygiene can have dire consequences on the brain especially in people who are susceptible to Alzheimer’s.

Infection from the gums or tooth can travel up the bloodstream to the brain and nerves, and play a part in deteriorating the patient’s memory, and causing dementia.

Respiratory problems:

There’s a good amount of clinical evidence that poor dental health can cause several pathologies in the lung. This could be anywhere from a simple upper respiratory tract infection, to life-threatening pneumonia and lung abscesses.

The bacteria that infect the teeth and gums can travel through the blood to the lungs, and cause all sorts of infections over time.

Throat problems:

Throat infections are particularly common when you have poor oral health. That’s because the anatomically close proximity of the tonsils and throat to the rest of the oral cavity predisposes them to infection. When you have a tooth or gum infection, it’s likely that the bacteria can travel to your throat and cause tonsillitis, pharyngitis or an even severer form of throat problem such as quinsy.

Complications in pregnancy:

It has been observed that women with below-par oral health and hygiene have a higher incidence of low birth weight babies and premature births. This is probably not because of a direct association between poor oral health and pregnancy, but an indirect effect of poor diet and sanitary habits, especially in low socio-economic areas.

Complications in diabetes:

Uncontrolled diabetes increases the chances of infection in your body and delays the process of healing. Gum and dental disease are much more common in a patient who is diabetic. Proper oral health care is therefore even more important in such individuals.

How Can You Improve Your Oral Health?

Oral health plays a crucial role in the overall health status of your body and is, in fact, a window to it. Good oral health is incomplete without a proper brushing technique and frequency, flossing after every meal and rinsing your mouth with a potent oral mouthwash. Anything that will decrease the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth will help you maintain good oral health.

There are other ways to improve your dental hygiene, and that can be done by watching your diet: avoiding sugary, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine, and including more veggies and fruits in your diet. Similarly, abstaining from tobacco smoking is important to combat poor dental health and hygiene.

It’s also important to schedule a regular appointment with your dentist to keep tabs on your oral health. A dentist will perform a complete oral cavity exam on your and recommend the best ways to keep your dental hygiene optimum.