When considering the benefits of oral hygiene, two objectives stand out: Prevent cavities and preserve aesthetic appeal. While these are important goals, proper oral care provides much more. Modern dental science has made it easier than ever to take good care of your teeth, both in terms of health and appearance, but we’ve also learned that the condition of one’s teeth can be an indicator of one’s overall health. |
People have been taking steps to protect their teeth for centuries. In Middle Ages Europe, it wasn’t uncommon for people to rub their teeth with rough cloth, sometimes using abrasive pastes and powders made from ash or herbs. Nevertheless, there were some problems that oral hygiene practices couldn’t prevent. Study of skeletons from Edo-period Japan, for instance, has shown that people in the lower strata of society had progressively worse dental health. This was largely because of a higher likelihood of suffering occasional bouts of malnutrition.
Today, we don’t have to worry so much about malnutrition, but there are still important lessons to learn from the past. Because of common access to toothbrushes and cleaning agents that most of us take for granted, the quality of one’s teeth is mostly thought of as evidence for one’s oral hygiene habits. Just as it did for the people of Edo, though, it can also point to differences in social status, which for us means the ability to afford regular dental care and orthodontics. Most importantly, whether due to irregular professional cleanings, delayed treatments, or failure to brush and floss on a daily basis, the condition of one’s teeth can predict health outcomes for the future. No one likes to make a call to the emergency dentists in Murray.
In recent years, medical researchers have discovered several links between oral hygiene and the prevalence of diseases that can impact life expectancy. For instance, they noted a correlation between the presence of cavities and several major heart conditions. What’s more, periodontitis has been correlated with both heart disease and diabetes. Further research suggests that oral disease has a complementary relationship with heart disease and diabetes, each making the other worse. And the connections between oral disease and other bodily diseases go even further, including potential risks for dementia and respiratory infections.
These health problems and more are connected with oral hygiene for a surprisingly simple reason: A badly cared-for mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria that can be communicated to other parts of the body. With this growing body of medical research, we now know more than ever why it’s so important to establish and maintain good oral hygiene habits and make regular use of dental professionals: It has and always will be so that caring for your teeth and gums is an essential step in caring for your overall health. Your local Utah family dentist will thank you.
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