If you have healthy teeth and gums, you are quite lucky. Although many people rarely consider their oral health until a problem arises, your dental health has a significant impact on your comfort level and overall wellbeing. Here are a few reasons that you should count yourself as fortunate to have a healthy mouth:
Mastication- The funny word for chewing!
Although you may not think much about the benefits of healthy teeth when it comes to eating, without your teeth, your dietary choices would be quite limited. Each of your teeth serves a purpose. Your molars and premolars are important for grinding your food, and your incisors help tear your food into bite-sized morsels that can fit easily into your mouth.
Once your teeth become unhealthy, chewing can be difficult and painful. You may be relegated to omitting all crunchy, hard or chewy foods from your diet. Imagine how unsavory it would be to only eat soft or liquefied foods. This can be especially important for a healthy diet. Can you think of some of your favorite foods that would be hard to enjoy without healthy teeth?
Dental problems are often accompanied by discomfort or even pain. Your teeth are comprised of multiple layers. The outermost layer, the enamel, is often the first portion of a tooth to incur damage. When oral bacteria feed on and digest leftover bits of food, they release acid as an end product of their digestion. This acid corrodes the enamel to cause decay.
Decay can easily spread, and over time, if no treatment is received, the deeper layers of the tooth may be affected. As the tooth decay invades the innermost layer of the tooth, which is the pulp, you may start to experience relentless pain.
The pulp of a tooth houses the dental nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. The decay can inflame the nerves, causing chronic pain and necessitating restorative dental care, such as root canal therapy. If a root canal is not performed, the decay tooth may need to be extracted. Our goal is to work closely with your dentist to carefully monitor the health of your teeth to ensure your teeth are beautiful and healthy when you complete your orthodontic care.
Healthy teeth are not only important for chewing. They are also important for the maintenance of your jawbone density.
The bones of your jaw support your teeth and give structure to your face. However, your jawbones can start to atrophy without regular stimulation. Each time you chew, the bite pressure incurred by your teeth is transferred to your jawbones. This pressure stimulates the production of additional bone cells to maintain the thickness of the bone.
If your teeth are unhealthy, you may find it difficult to chew, and your bone density may decline. This can eventually cause your face to take on a sagging, aged appearance. In addition, your remaining teeth may not rest as securely in the bone, and as a result, they may be more easily lost.
If you have a lost tooth and some of the supporting bone, there are procedures that can be done in conjunction to your orthodontic care that can help restore the missing supporting bone. These restorative procedures can have a wonderful impact on your dental health and facial profile!
The health of your teeth and gums also affects other areas of your body. There is a correlation between the health of your teeth and gums and that of your heart. People who suffer from gum disease are more apt to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Poor oral health is also linked to a higher incidence of dementia. If you have poor oral hygiene and gum disease, you have a higher number of oral bacteria and they can enter your body at any time you have trauma or even if you have any bleeding from flossing. As oral bacteria access other organs of the body through the bloodstream, inflammation can occur. When you are working hard to keep your teeth clean, you are not only protecting your teeth but your whole body as well!
How can you keep your teeth and gums healthy?
There are multiple things that you can do to ensure that your teeth and gums remain in good shape:
- Brush regularly. You should brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice daily. It is important to use a soft-bristled toothbrush that will not damage your tooth enamel. In addition, small circular strokes should be used, and all exposed crown surfaces should be cleaned. Click here for a video demonstration of the proper technique: https://youtu.be/94eA08mjg0E
- Floss daily. A toothbrush cannot fully access the areas between your teeth. It is important to remove plaque from the interdental spaces by flossing. String floss is typically used. If you wear braces, it must be paired with a threader to ensure that the floss can be navigated around the wires and brackets of your appliance. We also provide all of our patients with orthodontic flossers that can help make this task easier. The use of an oral irrigator like a Waterpik is also a good tool to use to help clean the teeth. The concentrated stream of water from the device flushes debris and plaque from between the teeth and along the gum line.
- Have regular dental cleanings by your dentist and hygienist. Brushing and flossing do not remove tartar from your teeth. The calcified plaque can only be scraped from your teeth using a professional dental tool. These regular visits also ensure your teeth and gums are in tip top shape and if your dentist has any concerns, they can be addressed when they are less severe! This is especially important during orthodontic treatment. Even though we are not a dentist, coming to see your orthodontist for your appointment is not a substitute for a cleaning.
You are lucky to have healthy teeth and to maintain your oral health you will still need to see your dentist regularly!
You are lucky to have healthy teeth, but to maintain your oral health, you will still need to see your dentist regularly.