How often do you or your employees give oral health a thought?
Since most dental offices are only accepting emergency visits right now, it’s of the utmost importance to maintain oral health — now and in the future.
Only 64% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 went to the dentist last year. With preventative visits now on hold, it’s essential your employees start using the best oral health practices to minimize a need for a major dental visit.
Plus, poor dental hygiene can lead to an array of health issues — heart disease and gingivitis, for starters. While there’s no control over when dental offices will open again, we do have control over how we take care of our teeth.
Keeping tooth decay away is the start of good oral health.
Below, learn about the consequences of poor oral health and tips to encourage employees to take care of their teeth.
Why Oral Health Matters
Oral health is more than a focus on clean, pearly-white teeth. It includes the health of the gums, teeth, and overall oral-facial system. This is what allows us to not only eat, but chew and speak, too.
In 2017 alone, 3.5 billion people worldwide were impacted by oral health diseases. “Oral health is a key indicator of overall health, well-being and quality of life,” according to the World Health Organization.
The mouth, it turns out, can indicate a lot about the overall health of a person.
Many oral diseases share certain risk factors with other major health concerns, including cancer and diabetes. Risk factors like tobacco use and alcohol consumption play a role in those, studies find.
A few fast facts on oral health issues:
- Oral diseases are the most common non-transmissible diseases worldwide
- 26% of U.S. adults have untreated tooth decay
- Early prevention means most oral health conditions are treatable in the early stages
- Severe gum disease impacts about 9% of adults
- Oral cancer is most common in those 55 years and older who are smokers and heavy drinkers
- Severe gum disease was estimated to be the 11th most prevalent disease globally
Interesting to Note: Not surprisingly, worldwide sugar consumption has tripled. The World Health Organization found that most people ingest at least 100 grams of sugar daily — twice the recommended amount.
Not only does this wreak havoc on the mouth, it’s causing an overall increase in heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, according to the FDI World Dental Federation.
Oral Health Concerns for the Mouth
While cavities are one of the most common oral health issues, it’s not the only one adults should be concerned with. If you don’t regularly floss and brush your teeth, you can develop a multitude of oral health conditions.
Here’s a look at some of the most problematic and common oral issues:
- Cavities - Also known as tooth decay, cavities are caused by plaque build-up from food, bacteria, sugar, etc. It’s caused by a breakdown of the tooth enamel from acids that get into the crevices of the teeth.
- Gingivitis - Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that can lead to more serious oral health concerns. When the gums become inflamed, it causes bleeding, soreness, and bad breath. Gingivitis is usually due to poor oral care habits. This can lead to the more serious condition called periodontitis. Between 2009 to 2014, it’s estimated around four in 10 adults ages 30 and older had gum disease.
- Periodontitis - This is a more serious infection that can lead to tooth loss and eventually move to the jaw and bones to create an inflammatory response throughout the body. With no bone support, this can cause loose teeth that may require extraction.
- Oral cancer - Oral cancer can be found in all parts of the mouth including the gums, tongue, lips, cheeks, and floor of the mouth. It may also be found on both the hard and soft palate. The cause is related strongly to tobacco use.
Oral Health and The Body
As we know, the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. That makes it easy for bacteria to travel from the mouth through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. This can cause a plethora of other health issues for the cardiovascular system, brain, and lungs, to name a few.
Some health problems caused by bad teeth are:
- Cardiovascular Disease - Bacteria in the bloodstream causes plaque to build in the arteries. Periodontitis in particular has been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease.
- Dementia - Bacteria from gum disease can kill brain cells causing memory-related disorders. A 2019 study found that gingivitis is potentially connected to Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Prostate issues - Periodontal disease in men is linked to higher levels of prostatitis — an urgent, frequent, and painful urination. One study found treating gum disease improved the prostatitis symptoms.
- Respiratory problems - Bacteria from the mouth can have an impact on the lungs. One small study found a link between those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) generally had poor oral health practices.
The best way to keep the mouth and the rest of the body healthy is to eat well and brush and floss daily. Annual dental care is a must, too.
Take Care of Your Mouth
Good health starts with your mouth — what you put in it and how you treat it. It's essential to take care of your teeth and gums, especially when so many other aspects of your health are dependent upon good oral health.
A few final tips for good oral hygiene:
- Eat well - A healthy diet, low in processed sugar and high in fruits and vegetables helps prevent oral disease and may help protect against oral cancers.
- Floss daily - Get the gunk out of your teeth every day. Gently floss in-between teeth down to the gumline. Be sure to scrape the sides of teeth on either side. Note it may bleed or be sore if you haven't flossed in awhile, but this will get better after a few days. Flossing is important to remove plaque toothbrushes can’t reach.
- Brush 2x a day - Soft bristles are best as are small, circular motions — too much pressure causes the gum to recede. Brush every tooth surface several times, rinse well, and brush the tongue. Replace the toothbrush when it looks worn. The American Dental Association recommends at least every 3-4 months or after you’ve been ill.
- Consider new technology - Electric toothbrushes and water flossers are a great way to ensure proper brushing and flossing technique. One study showed that electric toothbrushes tend to remove more plaque and gingivitis compared to a manual toothbrush.
- See the dentist - Go in for oral checkups every six months or as often as recommended by your dentist. If you’re a smoker, ask for oral cancer screenings, too.
There you have it — now you know that skipping flossing and not brushing your teeth thoroughly will get you into trouble with more than just your dentist. If you have questions about your overall oral health or brushing technique, chat with your dentist at your next visit. They’ll set you onto the path of the best oral health plan for you.
Ready to cut excess sugar out of your diet? Check out our free challenge: 4 Weeks to Cut the Sweets!
Image credit: Oral health vector created by studiogstock