Just the mere words ‘oral health’ can conjure up fear in some. Whether it is fear of the dentist or the cost associated with visiting one, we’d rather just not think about it. Right? But what if we said that by not considering your oral health, you could be setting yourself up for a heart attack or stroke? Not to mention worse pain and expense later.
Years ago, visiting the dentist started at school. If you were born in the 1930s or 40s, an image of the dentist might be a particularly scary one, perhaps involving an angry looking person in a white coat tying you to the chair to stop you from wriggling around! Thankfully, those days are long gone and seeing a dentist, and undergoing their procedures, has evolved into a much more comfortable experience. So, with such modern and advanced dentistry these days, how can something inside your mouth have any effect upon your vital organs?
The state of our health begins with us. For those of us not too down with the whole brushing and flossing process, or who struggle to remember their last dentist appointment, a gum disease called periodontitis can develop. You might be surprised to hear that recent studies have found a link between this and heart disease. In fact, in its moderate to advanced stages, the risk of developing heart disease through periodontitis is greater than those who have healthy gums. Eek! Of course, you may not even know you have gum disease because, for some people, there are no symptoms at all, and they feel fine. But let’s say you do have it; how does it develop into something more serious?
It’s down to a simple case of bacteria. When germs and bacteria invade your mouth, these can infect other parts of your body by travelling through your bloodstream. Once these nasties reach your heart, they can become attached and cause inflammation. Inflammation is the cause of many an ailment, but in this case, it can result in a condition called endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of your heart and valves. In addition to this (as if that wasn’t bad enough) the inflammation can also cause conditions such as stroke or atherosclerosis (clogged arteries due to a build-up of plaque).
Now I don’t know about you, but that’s making an hour with a dentist sound rather attractive right now! And that’s where we get to the other subject on how your oral health can affect your wellbeing. Self-esteem. I’m sure everyone will agree that self-esteem plays a major part in how we feel about ourselves and therefore has a starring role in our state of mind and overall health. Imagine someone with a mouthful of rotten teeth and bad breath and you can see where this is leading. It is not just a question of physical attractiveness, but more our inner attractiveness. It is such a shame to see people too afraid to smile because of the state of their teeth. It can chip away at a person’s confidence and affect those around them too, for they are never able to see that person’s inner happiness shine through.
So, what can we learn from all this? Let’s start with prevention. Any good dentist will tell you, brush your teeth twice a day with a soft bristled brush (or electric toothbrush), floss daily and have regular appointments with a hygienist. It’s probably also as good a time as ever to hit re-set and refresh some of those products that are currently in your bathroom cupboard. Just as dentistry has come a long way, so too has research on the ingredients in dental products.
At IAMCO we are always on the lookout for products which contain natural, healthy ingredients. Studies in recent years have shown that fluoride, long associated with off-the-shelf toothpaste, may not actually be the best thing to be putting in our mouths. Although it is helpful in preventing tooth decay, it is not good in high quantities and, as it is found in soil and water anyway, not necessarily helpful as a synthetic addition to toothpaste.
Another common ingredient in commercial toothpaste is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. This is usually added to produce a foam which gives the impression of cleaning our teeth when, in reality, it doesn’t do much (health wise) at all. So, if you are going to start looking after your teeth and want to be thorough, just do yourself a favour and pick a product that has health benefits too! There are plenty of good products out there if you look further than your supermarket shelf.
And just like going to the doctor when we feel ‘off,’ we should be treating our teeth and gums with the same importance and ensuring we visit a dentist from time to time. As periodontitis is often undiagnosed, perhaps now is a good time for that check-up? It’s never too late to take control to achieve a healthy mouth, fresh breath and a super bright smile!