There are a number of common misconceptions that people carry regarding the topic of Oral Health. For example, (1) They consider the health of their teeth and gums alone and exclude other areas. Oral Health is more than that – The tongue, along with the mouth, also needs looking after. (2) Then, many people believe that Oral Health is independent of overall health. However, research that points to the contrary says that – Systemic diseases (that affect the whole body), general infections, disorders and even nutritional deficiencies can first become apparent through the mouth. For instance, pale or bleeding gums can indicate blood disorders, aphthous ulcers may be related to Coeliac disease or Crohn’s disease, the deforming shape of the jaw/jawline can be a sign of the onset of skeletal osteoporosis, and changes in the appearance of the teeth can indicate bulimia or anorexia in some cases. (3) A few also believe that habits like binge eating (or drinking), irregular sleep, and substance abuse (smoking) do not harm their Oral Health! This is obviously untrue.
If you are a person who enjoys discovering and learning new things, this article is for you. Along with the 5 tips for great Oral Health, I also bust myths and make some interesting observations that come from my experience as a Health Coach and Mentor. Having suffered first-hand with Oral Health problems, I have some real insights. I hope you enjoy reading and make little adjustments to your own Health Plan to incorporate Oral Health care.
1) Oral Hygiene
Visiting your dentist regularly (twice a year is the recommended frequency), brushing, and flossing or using interdental cleaners daily are some of the things that you already do. Consider cleaning your tongue as a part of your everyday routine. The surface of the tongue is covered in small round protuberances called papillae. These papillae can harbour bacteria and germs that not only cause bad breath but also affect your sense of taste. The bacteria from the mouth can infect other parts of the body when the body’s immunity has been compromised for any reason. Cleaning your tongue with a tongue cleaner or your toothbrush can check the growth of these bacteria and germs, and reduce the chances of contacting infection.
2) Diet and Nutrition
A well-balanced meal rich in nutrients is the answer for all ailments. Nutrient rich foods help build immunity and give your body the ability to fight infection. A poor diet can lead to tooth decay and gum diseases. Further, lack of nutrition can escalate the progress and severity of periodontal diseases, even leading to tooth loss. Foods rich in carbohydrates and sugars contribute to the release of plaque acids that corrode tooth enamel. Eating these types of foods (usually fast foods and comfort foods) frequently can lead to the wear down of tooth enamel and the formation of cavities. Gummy and pasty foods that stick to your teeth can also trigger an overproduction of plaque.
3) Water Intake
Drinking water has a purgative effect on the body, as well as the mouth. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you exercise. Apart from cleansing the palette, this can also help in rinsing the mouth of the bacteria and other substances that are stuck.
4) Tobacco and Alcohol
Bad breath and tooth discolouration are perhaps the least harmful effects of consuming tobacco. Smoking or chewing tobacco is the cause of over 80%-90% of the oral cancers. When smoking is accompanied by alcohol consumption, the ill effects on health can be synergistically amplified exposing users to a significantly higher risk of oral cancer.
Stress hampers our ability to perform our daily functions. It induces a lethargy and a sense of ‘inactivity’ and we tend to binge eat and drink our way out. Stress is, therefore, the leading indirect cause of many oral diseases. Stress can compound problems for us since it impacts our immune and lymphatic systems, causing us to be susceptible to further health challenges. Exercising regularly and managing stress through activities such as yoga and meditation, can enhance your chances to counter stress successfully.
A healthy mouth is the gateway to a healthy body. Good oral hygiene goes beyond merely maintaining a good set of teeth and can help us fight disease and infection. A lot of alternative medicine practitioners can gauge the state of your health merely by looking at the tongue. Such is the importance!