Written by R. S Jacobs
Your mouth (aka oral or buccal cavity) plays a vital role in ensuring we maintain a good all-round health in more ways than you can begin to imagine! Think about it practically, your mouth is the main entrance for the essentials of life such as food, water and air. It is the first place that enzymes form in your body and the most common route for pathogens to gain entrance into your system.
Let me reiterate how cardinal your oral cavity is on a peripheral level. Your mouth is the central hub to every part of the body, and your identity is deeply embellished within it – Forensics can identify a person just by swabbing their mouth. The mouth can accurately pinpoint exactly what is in your body, be it drugs, narcotics, sugar levels, bacteria, viruses, diseases, hormones etc. Worryingly, studies have actually shown that 40% of people suffering from mouth disease are more likely to have other underlying chronic diseases.
So, when doctors reiterate that you should brush your teeth twice daily, they certainly weren’t saying it off the cuff, but rather to help you create a routine that will not only improve your all-round health but save you lots of money visiting the tooth fairy`s office! What many people fail to consider is that the mouth is one of the biggest harvesting grounds for bacteria, it provides a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive and multiply. When this bacteria is not controlled, it can cause degenerative health issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, mouth ulcers, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, oral cancer and in more serious cases, a bad infection can lead sepsis which can be fatal.
During the day, the saliva in our mouths helps to reduce the multiplication of bacteria and viruses, a process that is designed to keep the mouth as clean as possible. However, when we sleep, the bacteria are able to grow due to the reduced production of saliva. This is one of the key reasons why you must always brush your teeth before going to bed and first thing in the morning. These are the times when your mouth is full of more than a billion bacteria, which is certainly not the kind of thing you want going inside you to create an unnecessary tug-of-war.
Thankfully, the immune system does a fantastic job at fighting these invaders, but they can only fight to the best of their capability. Therefore, you have to do your own part by incorporating habits such as flossing, rinsing with mouthwash after meals, brushing your teeth at least twice daily, avoiding sugary diets and drink (this is one of the main fuel sources for bacteria – gross!), and one of my best kept secret to whiter teeth, good breath and a fresh mouth all day long – oil pulling. These are just some of the ways you can ensure that your oral hygiene is properly maintained.
Links Between Oral Health and General Health
* Heart diseases. Although there are many other factors that contribute to heart problems, oral disease can significantly affect the function of the heart. Diseases like periodontitis can contribute to the inflammation of the arteries and veins, which prevents the free flow of blood to the heart. Bacteria and viruses can also be transported to the heart which can lead to much more serious issues that can be very difficult to manage.
* Stroke. Researchers have shown many links between gum disease and blockage in the vessels which supply the brain with blood. Remember, without an adequate supply of blood, your brain would literally not work. To put things into perspective, over 80% of strokes are caused by a blockage in the artery, which dangerously reduces the supply of blood to the brain. This could most likely occur if you don’t maintain a good oral hygiene routine.
* Digestive problem. Digestion starts in the mouth with enzymes breaking down the food before it gets to the stomach for secondary processing. If you develop a problem at this gateway, you are more prone to issues like irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal failure, bloating and other digestive complications.
* Diabetes. Scientific research has shown strong links between poor oral health and diabetes. Inflammation that occurs in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control sugar levels. High blood sugar and insulin resistance not only cause diabetes to flourish but also encourages any mouth infection to keep growing which could continue to trigger further infections throughout the body.
* Lung condition. As the mouth is connected closely to the pulmonary cavity, mouth disease could lead to an increase in the level of bacteria in the lungs, which could then advance to pneumonia or chronic pulmonary diseases. An excess of viruses & bacteria often demonstrates itself as a common cold and flu.
* Severe Migraine. Anyone who has ever had a toothache can confirm the unbearable chronic pain that seems to consume your whole body! As your teeth are connected to the largest sensory nerve in the head, a toothache is transmitted through the nerve by causing a throbbing migraine. As the old saying goes ‘prevention is better than a cure’. Would you not prefer to prevent this from happening rather than trying to cure it after you start to feel a toothache?
* Oral cancer. This is understandably one of the scariest medical terms that anyone would dread hearing. When bacteria and viruses are left to multiply in an uncontrolled environment, cancerous cells have the perfect surroundings to multiply at an alarmingly fast rate. Oral virus like Human Papillomavirus can be carcinogenic, which is known to lead to oral cancer.
In conclusion, paying more attention to your oral health might pay you back more than a charming smile but also as all-round wellness. Therefore, endeavour to make it a habit to floss, brush twice daily and also get a tongue scraper. The tongue is one of the hotspot for mouth bacteria and sometimes, brushes don’t do well at cleaning it. Try oil pulling too, it has numerous benefits. Good oral health is the window to a healthy body.
Stay strong, warriors!
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