As your family dentist in OKC, our staff at Shepherd Mall Family Dentistry remains committed to providing you with the tools and information needed to enjoy a lifetime of not only healthy teeth and gums, but a healthy body as well.
In recent years, a growing amount of research has found compelling evidence that links poor oral health with a range of chronic health problems. A number of independent studies have found that individuals who suffer from poor oral health have a significantly higher risk of developing such long-term illnesses as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and throat and oral cancers. While researchers remain uncertain about what links these diseases to poor oral health, the one common condition is gum disease.
Our Mouths Contain Millions of Strands of Bacteria…
While most of this bacteria plays a helpful and healthy role, plaque – a sticky biofilm that’s made up of harmful bacteria and food particles that linger in the mouth after eating – can present a serious risk if our oral health is left unchecked.
When we consume sugar – whether from an afternoon soda or candy bar or from eating a bowl of pasta or morning bagel – plaque transforms the substance into harmful acids that slowly erode tooth enamel. Over time, plaque acids even begin to irritate gum tissue, causing inflammation that leads to cracked and bleeding gums. When your gums bleed, the opening in the gum tissue allows oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to other points in the body. Researchers believe that when plaque enters the bloodstream, it can travel to the heart and even potentially the brain, where it causes inflammation to develop. Inflammation is the root cause for the majority of chronic illnesses that develop in the body, according to researchers.
The potential for gum disease to negatively impact your body is why preventing the spread and development of the disease is so important when protecting your oral and overall health. Fortunately, preventing gum disease is as easy as one-two-three!
1. Brush Twice a Day
Brushing twice daily ranks as one of the most important daily habits you can have in order to prevent the development of tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing removes plaque from the surface of your teeth and food from your mouth, while also helping to strengthen tooth enamel when brushing with a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day for at least two minutes at a time. Brushing for less than two minutes does not allow you to adequately clean all of the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth, such as the back molars and along the gum line. In addition to helping remove plaque and food particles, brushing twice a day will also eliminate odors that cause bad breath. To achieve the freshest breath possible, take a moment to brush your tongue. Like your teeth and gums, your tongue can also collect harmful bacteria that contribute to bad breath if allowed to fester.
2. Floss Daily
The other habit that is vital to ensuring a lifetime of healthy gums is flossing daily. Flossing works in tandem with brushing to remove plaque deposits and food particles from areas of the mouth your toothbrush cannot adequately clean, such as between your teeth and below the gum line. Failing to floss allows plaque to accumulate in these areas, leading to an increased risk of gum disease.
Studies conducted by the American Dental Association have found that 40 percent of adults in the U.S. fail to floss daily. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who don’t believe flossing is actually that important, consider this fact – the majority of cavities in the mouth develop in-between a patient’s teeth. So if you want to keep your teeth looking healthy and avoid the risks associated with gum disease you need to make time to put in the effort to floss.
3. Visit Your Dentist in OKC
The final step you need to take to protect your oral health is to schedule regular checkups and exams with our friendly OKC dentist at Shepherd Mall Family Dentistry. Regular exams provide our dentist the opportunity to spot the signs of dental decay early on while the condition is still easily treatable. Dental cleanings give our staff of gentle dental hygienists the ability to remove any plaque deposits from along your gum line and from the surface of your teeth. While the frequency of how often you’ll need to visit our OKC dental office varies depending on the current state of your oral health, most patients will only need to receive a cleaning once every six months.