How Oral Health Affects Your Wellbeing
- February 20, 2017
- 6 mins read
Brushing your teeth is a perfunctory task at most. It is done with minimal effort and is automatic to almost everyone. People stand in front of their sinks twice or thrice a day to brush their teeth, removing food debris, unwanted odors and tastes from the mouth. Only after ensuring that all unpleasant mouth odors have been eradicated do most people think they are now fit to appear in society.
However, there are instances when brushing your teeth just isn’t possible. This can include situations such as camping, or when you forgot your toothbrush and there isn’t a store for miles. When this happens, most people would chew a gum or two to get rid of the smell, and leave their mouths feeling fresh, too.
It goes to follow that oral hygiene is important to most people. However, did you know that there is more to brushing your teeth than just keeping your breath fresh?
Your Body’s Unsung Gatekeeper
You may not think of your mouth as the gatekeeper to your body, but it surely functions as one. Everything you eat or drink would have to go through your mouth before it is broken down and processed by your body. Aside from ensuring that you have the fuel you need to get through the day, your mouth also bears telltale signs of your overall health. Here are a number of ways that the mouth is useful for you – other than keeping you fed and hydrated, of course.
- Diagnosing Conditions and Illnesses – A single swab of cotton on your mouth can speak volumes about your health. This is best explained by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as it reveals in recent data that “the mouth and the face reflect signs and symptoms of health and disease that can serve as an adjunct for diagnosis for some conditions.”To strengthen this claim, it is a known fact that majority of systemic diseases – or diseases that affect your entire body – first become apparent through oral problems such as mouth lesions and sores.
This is echoed by the Academy of General Dentistry when it explains that over 90 percent of systemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Crohn’s Disease, among others, produce oral signs and symptoms on their onset. This means that if your physician were to conduct an examination of your oral cavity and you have an underlying systemic condition, then you would be able to catch it sooner, leading to early diagnosis and treatment.For this reason, there are a number of diagnostic tests that make use of oral cells and fluids, particularly the saliva. These tests vary in gravity, ranging from detecting drug use and hormonal fluctuations to pinpointing specific diseases such as the ones mentioned above. Getting samples from your mouth is also easier and less invasive than other diagnostic methods, such as drawing blood and utilizing urine samples. Due to this, physicians are harnessing the potentials of diagnosing using saliva specimen.
- First Line of Defense – You may not realize it, but if your mouth is the entry point for food and drinks, then it only goes to follow that it can also be the entrance for pathogens and toxins. While the mouth is entrenched with bacteria, there are instances when harmful bacteria would come in and would attempt to attack your body. When this happens, your immune system will battle them to prohibit them from entering the body, often resulting in inflammation.Your mouth acts as your first line of defense through your saliva.
The saliva has histatins or proteins that help your antibodies (from your immune system) fight back pathogens. Histatins have enzymes that destroy bacteria in a number of ways, such as by inhibiting their growth, degrading bacterial membranes, or distorting their metabolism. This way, the bacteria are destroyed before they can cause more damage to the body.However, there are instances when this line of defense fails. When this happens, the infection can spread to the rest of the body.
- Confidence Booster – Having a beautiful smile can do wonders when you are at a social event, but have you ever had to try to hide your smile because of uneven teeth? There are also cases wherein people are hesitant to talk to their peers because they have foul smelling breath that no amount of brushing or gargling mouthwash could remove. With these two statements alone, you can easily imagine how having bad oral hygiene – or having oral problems, in general – can cause your confidence to plummet.There are also instances when oral health problems negatively impact a person’s quality of life. This varies in intensity from the psychological ramifications of not having straight teeth, to actual physical limitations that are imposed on the lives of patients. This can come in the form of debilitating pain or transition into even worse conditions because of an underlying oral problem.
An example of this health hazard would be periodontitis, defined by Mayo Clinic as “a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth.” Those who have periodontitis may have tooth loss, but even more alarming is that it increases a person’s risk for a heart attack or stroke.What makes this more serious is the fact that the condition starts out as a buildup of plaque. Regular brushing should get rid of plaque buildup, but some people do not pay close attention to their oral hygiene. The longer these materials are in your teeth, the more damage they can do. Overtime, these materials can erode your teeth and gum, leading to a serious case of periodontitis.
Now that you know what an integral role your mouth plays in your overall health, we hope that you are more inspired to enhance your oral hygiene routines. To get the most out of your oral health, make sure that you regularly brush your teeth and floss so that you would be able to get rid of tartar and plaque. Not only will you have fresher breath, you will be healthier too.