Here’s a fact you might not be aware of: your oral health directly affects your overall health!
Research has proven that poor oral health is linked to a number of conditions, including cancer, kidney disease, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and dementia .
For this reason, it’s absolutely critical that you take care of your oral health.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at two of the greatest threats to your mouth: cavities and gum disease.
We’re going to look at the symptoms, what causes them (including the underlying triggers), and what you can do to prevent them.
By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to take action to improve your oral health—and in so doing, protect yourself against a lot of potentially serious health problems down the road!
Gum disease, or periodontitis, often begins with gum inflammation (called gingivitis). Almost everyone will experience gum inflammation at some point, but because the symptoms are so mild, it tends to go ignored.
Big mistake! If the inflammation progresses, gum disease can be a serious problem. It’s important that you stop it gingivitis in its tracks before it worsens.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by bacteria in the plaque that builds up around your teeth . Plaque is actually a sticky bacterial film that is always forming on your teeth, the result of acids from your food and drinks.
When the bacteria builds up too much, it can harden into tartar and infect your gums, causing swelling, irritation, and weaken the gums so they bleed more easily when you brush your teeth.
Over time, the inner layers of your gums and bone pull back from your teeth, and can form pockets or hollow spaces where more debris is collected and the infection worsens. Your teeth, gum tissue, and bone gets destroyed, your teeth loosen, and you are at greater risk of the long-term widespread health problems listed above.
A few of the underlying triggers that can bring on or worsen infection and inflammation in your gums include:
Hormonal changes, including those that occur during menopause, puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy.
Medications that lessen your saliva production or cause abnormal gum tissue growth.
Poor oral hygiene habits, such as not flossing or brushing daily.
Illnesses like cancer or HIV that impair your immune system, as well as diabetes.
Family history of gingivitis and periodontitis
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Cavities, also known as caries, are the mark of tooth decay. As with gingivitis, the build-up of dental plaque around the teeth and gums can increase the presence of oral bacteria, which in turn release more acid that can wear away at the outer enamel layer protecting your teeth. The erosion can form holes that expose the softer tissue beneath. The deeper and larger the hole, the more damage the cavity will do to your teeth—until it may ultimately need to be removed.
What causes it?
Cavities affect around 80% of Americans , but they’re particularly common among those who eat a lot of high-sugar food and drinks or fail to brush/floss their teeth properly. Poor oral hygiene and excessive sugar intake are the primary causes of cavities.
Some of the symptoms of cavities include bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, bleeding gums, redness in or around your mouth, sensitivity to cold or hot drinks, pain in your teeth or mouth, and even facial swelling.
A few of the underlying triggers that can bring on or worsen tooth decay and cause cavities to include:
Medical conditions (such as Sjogren’s syndrome) that decrease saliva production
Medications (such as antidepressants) which cause dry mouth
A family history of cavities and dental health problems
Radiation therapy for treating neck or head cancer
The good news is that both of these oral health problems can be addressed by taking a few simple preventative measures today:
Eat less sugar and starchy carbs.
Brush your teeth and gums twice daily for 2 minutes.
Floss twice daily.
Drink more water and rinse your mouth throughout the day.
Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a check-up. If cavities are present, get them sealed before they worsen. And, if recommended by your dentist, get dental sealants to protect your teeth’s chewing surfaces.
Just like that, you can address the main causes behind oral health problems and prevent both gum disease and cavities.
Our mouths are designed to be both self-repairing and self-cleaning. All you need to do is incorporate these hygiene habits into your day and help your mouth take care of itself!
Gum disease and tooth decay can impair your health, both in the short- and long-term. Understanding what’s behind these conditions is just the first step. With the information we share here, you can take action to prevent problems and protect your oral health.
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