- Brush for 2 minutes twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste
- Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend
Healthy Gums – Healthy Body
Could the health of my mouth effect my general health?
Yes! There are new findings which support something that dental professionals have suspected for a long time: infections in the mouth can cause problems in other parts of the body.
What problems could poor dental health cause? Problems which may be caused or made worse by poor dental health include:
- Heart Disease
- Giving birth to a premature or low-birth-weight baby
- Respiratory (lung) disease
How can the health of my mouth affect my heart?
People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease than people without gum disease. When people have gum disease, bacteria from the mouth can get into their bloodstream. The bacteria produce protein. This can then affect the heart by causing the platelets in the blood to stick together in the blood vessels of the heart. This can make clots more likely to form. Blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, so that the heart does not get all the nutrients and oxygen it needs. If the blood flow is badly affected this could lead to a heart attack.
What is the link between gum disease and strokes?
Several studies have looked at the connection between mouth infections and strokes. They have found that people who have had a stroke are more likely to have gum disease than people who have not had one. When the bacteria that cause gum disease get into the bloodstream, they produce a protein. This can cause inflammation of the blood vessels, and this can block the blood supply to the brain. This can cause a stroke.
How could diabetes affect my dental health?
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without it. This is probably because diabetics are more likely to get infections in general. People who do not know they have diabetes, or whose diabetes is not under control, are especially at risk. If you do have diabetes it is important that any gum disease is diagnosed, because it can increase your blood sugar. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications. Also, if you are diabetic, you may find that you heal more slowly. If you have a problem with your gums, or have problems after visits to your dentist, discuss this with your dentist before you have any treatment. New research has also shown that you are more likely to develop diabetes if you have gum disease. If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of losing teeth.
Could gum disease effect my unborn child?
Pregnant women who have gum disease may be over three times more likely to have a baby that is premature and so has a low birth weight. There is a one-in-four chance that a pregnant woman with gum disease will give birth before 35 weeks. It seems that gum disease raises the levels of the chemicals that bring on labour. Research also suggests that women whose gum disease gets worse during pregnancy have an even higher risk of having a premature baby. Having gum disease treated properly during pregnancy can reduce the risk of a premature birth.
How could bacteria in the mouth effect my lungs?
Bacterial chest infections are thought to be caused by breathing in fine droplets from the throat and mouth into the lungs. This can cause infections, such as pneumonia, or could make an existing condition worse. People with gum disease have more bacteria in their mouths and may therefore be more likely to get chest infections.
Can tooth loss lead to dementia?
A recent study found that people with fewer teeth had a higher risk of experiencing memory loss or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
Can exercise help to prevent gum disease?
A recent study has shown that people who stay fit and healthy are 40% less likely to develop tooth-threatening gum infections that could lead to gum disease. It also found that not exercising, not keeping to a normal body weight and unhealthy eating habits made a person much more likely to get advanced gum disease. If you are serious about your health – and your teeth – you will need to exercise, eat a healthy, balanced diet and keep to a normal body weight.
Can smoking affect my teeth and gums?
Smoking can make gum disease much worse. People who smoke are more likely to produce bacterial plaque that leads to gum disease. The gums are affected because smoking means you have less oxygen in your bloodstream, so the infected gums do not heal. Smoking can also lead to tooth staining, tooth loss because of gum disease, bad breath, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.
Our tips for a healthy mouth
Good oral health can have so many wonderful life-changing benefits. From greater self-confidence to better luck in careers and relationships, a healthy smile can truly transform your visual appearance, the positivity of your mind-set, as well as improving the health of not only your mouth but your body too.
As part of National Smile Month, we have put together some top tips covering all areas of your oral health, to help keep you smiling throughout the campaign.
Caring for your mouth
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean in between your teeth at least once a day using interdental brushes or floss.
- To check if you have bad breath lick your wrist, let it dry and give it a sniff, if it smells your breath probably does too.
- If you use mouthwash don’t use it directly after brushing as you rinse away the fluoride from your toothpaste.
- Quit smoking to help reduce the chances of tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer.
- Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride; it helps strengthen tooth enamel making it more resistant to decay.
- Change your toothbrush every two to three months or sooner if it becomes worn as it will not clean the teeth properly. • Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend. • Some dentists may offer home visits for people who are housebound or have difficulty visiting the surgery.
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
- Some dentists may offer home visits for people who are housebound or have difficulty visiting the surgery.
- If you are nervous about visiting the dentist, make sure they are aware of why so they can improve your treatment.
- Help to overcome dental anxiety by taking a friend with you for support or listen to music to help you relax and focus on something else.
- Your dentist will carry out a visual mouth cancer check during your regular check-up.
- Visiting a dental hygienist can help give you excellent tips and advice on preventing dental problems.
Diet and your oral health
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating or drinking, especially sugary foods, to help protect your teeth and gums in between meals.
- Wait an hour after eating or drinking anything before brushing as then enamel will be softened and you could be brushing away tiny particles.
- A varied diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease.
- Finishing a meal with a cube of cheese is a great, and tasty, way to reduce the effect of acids from the foods damaging your teeth.
- Avoid snacking and try to only have sugary foods and drinks at mealtimes, reducing the time your teeth come under attack.
- If you have a sweet tooth try to choose sugar free sweets and drinks which contain xylitol as it can actively contribute to your oral health.
Children's oral health
- Weaning your baby off the bottle early can help them avoid developing dental problems.
- All children up to three years old, should use a smear of toothpaste with a fluoride level of no less than 1000ppm (parts per million). After three years old, they should use a toothpaste that contains 1350ppm -1500ppm.
- Parents should try and supervise your children’s tooth brushing until they are about 7 years old.
- Take your child to the dentist early, as soon as their teeth start to appear, this will help them get used to the sights, sounds and smells of a dental practice.
- Use a timer or brush a long to a song to ensure your children are brushing for the correct amount of time.
- Use a reward chart to track your children’s brushing habits and get them actively involved in brushing their teeth.
- Use disclosing tablets to show areas of your children’s mouth which may need better brushing.