Oral health refers to the condition of the mouth, teeth, gums, and other orofacial structures that are involved in conducting vital bodily functions like eating, breathing, and speaking. It can also affect certain aspects of your psychosocial behavior, such as having self-confidence or being able to socialize and work without pain, discomfort, and embarrassment.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), oral health is an important indicator of overall health, well-being, and quality of life. It can provide clues to your body’s physical condition while showing your risk level for developing chronic diseases. This is even more crucial for pregnant women because poor oral health during pregnancy can affect the overall condition of both mother and child.
Having good oral health means that your teeth and gums are healthy, you are not suffering from dental problems, and you can chew properly, speak clearly, and smile confidently. On the other hand, poor oral care can lead to various health concerns, which can impact your quality of life and productivity.
In the US alone, poor oral care has resulted in dental emergencies that have caused more than 34 million school hours and $45 billion in productivity losses every year. Of the total population, more than 40% of adults experience pain in their mouth, and more than 80% are expected to suffer from at least one cavity by the time they reach 34 years old.
Proper Oral Care Basics
Maintaining good oral hygiene is pretty easy, and you only have to follow a few basic steps religiously. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time, using a soft-bristled toothbrush, then brushing in circular motions to get rid of plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums effectively. Consider getting a dental gel for more efficient cleaning since it is better at removing plaque, plus it is free of parabens, antimicrobials, and harsh abrasives.
After brushing, it is recommended to use a mouthwash that contains fluoride and antibacterial agents because this can help kill bacteria and freshen your breath. Floss at least once a day, making sure to get between every tooth and under the gum line, in order to remove plaque and food particles that your toothbrush may miss. It would be best to visit the dentist every six months to get your routine checkups and cleanings, which can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Finally, your diet also affects your oral health, and you must make better food choices, such as fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, to help protect your teeth and gums. Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks because these can erode enamel and cause decay, as well as tobacco and alcohol, which can cause oral cancer, gum disease, and tooth decay.
Importance Of Proper Oral Care
Many people treat oral care as an afterthought, but proper oral care is vital for many reasons. First, and probably the most obvious one, is that neglecting proper oral hygiene can lead to many discomforts like toothache, sensitivity to cold or hot food or drinks, loose teeth, sudden pain when eating cold or sweet foods, having the tooth change its color or shape, and damaged teeth.
Some of the more serious consequences of poor dental hygiene are cavities or tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer, and certain chronic and life-threatening diseases. This is because your mouth is one of the major entry points to your body through the digestive and respiratory tracts, and it is normally filled with potentially disease-causing bacteria. Fortunately, regular brushing and cleaning of your oral cavities would usually get rid of these bacteria so they would not cause any harm to your body.
However, poor oral hygiene can cause the bacteria in your mouth to enter your lungs and cause pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. Certain dental issues like gum disease can also damage the tiny blood vessels in your mouth, allowing bacteria to enter your bloodstream, which can then result in long-term issues like inflamed arteries, blood clots, and kidney or cardiovascular diseases.
Meanwhile, properly caring for your teeth and gums can help you avoid many of these problems. Aside from enabling you to comfortably perform some necessary physiological activities, good oral health will also get you to save on dental fees because you will not need to pay for expensive dental procedures such as fillings or root canals in the future.
Maintaining clean and healthy teeth and gums can improve your confidence and self-esteem as well, which can positively impact your interactions with others. In fact, studies have shown that untreated dental problems like tooth loss or tooth decay have a serious impact on people’s self-perception and psychosocial behavior, which results in lower morale and sense of self-worth.
On the other hand, having a healthy, attractive smile makes you feel more secure in your appearance. It also allows you to smile more freely, making you appear more approachable and attractive, thus improving your interactions with others. Lastly, good oral hygiene can prevent bad breath – a major turn-off in social situations.