Photo courtesy of Morguefile

It seems ludicrous doesn’t it? That brushing your teeth and flossing regularly could have such an impact on your health. Basically it falls down to the old children’s song or adage: “The hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone…etc.” (You’re welcome for that. You’ll sing it for a week now!) The body is a whole entity. Everything is connected and works together.

When proper brushing of teeth is ignored bacteria begins to build up. As bacteria accumulate it hardens into plaque which becomes more difficult to remove. This can occur in about 26 hours. Therefore it is crucial to brush properly two times per day and floss regularly. Brushing teeth only cleans about 60% of the tooth surface, therefore flossing is essential, not only for a healthy smile, but a healthy lifestyle. Plaque as viewed under a microscope can look like tentacles burrowing into the enamel or spiky like jacks. This allows more bacteria and plaque to adhere more easily, thus producing a fast downward spiral for teeth and oral health.

Poor oral hygiene has been linked to a variety of health issues. Including, but not limited to, gum disease, gingivitis, heart disease and overall wellness or “feeling well”. When your body is under attack due to poor hygiene in any fashion inflammation of some sort is often a result. This is certainly so when dealing with the gums and oral cavity.

As plaque builds along the gum line the gums become inflamed. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gingival: the gums. They can be sore, begin to bleed and get red and puffy. Inflammation is the body’s response to bacteria, trauma, toxins or any other cause of damage. Damaged cells release chemicals into blood vessels causing them to excrete fluid which produces swelling of the area to prevent further contamination to the body. If this continues, gums react by trying to get away. This is referred to as receding gums. As the gums recede it creates more pockets for bacteria to house in. Eventually teeth become mobile and in some cases fall out.

The oral cavity is also one of the direct lines to the blood stream. This is why research has shown a lot of evidence linking poor oral hygiene to heart disease. Ever wonder why nitroglycerin under the tongue is so effective for people having a heart attack? The medication is almost instantaneously absorbed into the body.

In a British study of more than 11,000 people named the Scottish Health Survey it was discovered that people with poor oral hygiene were 70% more likely to suffer from heart disease. This was after an adjustment of lifestyles such as smoking, obesity, family history of heart disease, social class. Constant inflammation, even low grade inflammation, wreaks havoc on the body. It’s as though the body is under constant attack.

Therefore, brushing teeth properly two times per day and flossing regularly is among the easiest, most affordable ways to stay healthy and disease free! However, as previously stated, the body works as a whole. Nothing is independent from another. Eating right, exercising on a regular basis, getting enough sleep, etc., are also vital to an overall healthy life. And remember…a smile is your first impression! Take care of it!