There is a disturbing trend going strong in the U.S. and across the globe. That trend is poor dental hygiene and severely lacking dental care.
What’s even more pressing is that it is not just about your teeth. A mouthful of unhealthy teeth and red, swollen gums can have lasting consequences on your physical and mental health.
Just how bad is it? Take a look at some of the facts:
- According to The Federal World Dental Foundation (FDI), 3.9 billion people all over the world suffer from symptoms of oral disease, and untreated tooth decay affects “almost half of the world’s population (44%).”
- Globally, just about 100% of adults have at least some tooth decay. This tooth decay ranges in severity, sometimes causing aches, discomfort, and anxiety. At its worse, it can lead to heart problems and certain types of cancer.
- Almost half of U.S. adults 30 and up — 46% — have telltale signs of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For healthy gums and a healthy smile, dental hygiene is a must.
- An overwhelming 52% of U.S. children will have at least one cavity in their baby teeth by age eight.
- “Oral disease can cause pain and infections that may lead to problems with eating, speaking, and learning. It can also affect social interaction and employment potential,” the CDC writes.
The facts make it clear: For a healthy body and healthy smile dental hygiene is of utmost importance. Learn more below.
1. Dental Hygiene Instills Healthy Habit Formation
When should you start brushing your child’s teeth? The answer is as soon as their teeth come in. Up until that point, gently wipe infants’ gums with a soft, non-abrasive cloth to remove any debris, buildup, or bacteria. When their first tooth comes in, you can begin using a toothbrush with soft, fine bristles. That is also a good time to call about their first dentist appointment. Children may need help with brushing until age seven or eight, but they will ask about brushing and do their best to take part when they become toddlers. Encourage them and help them.
It is important to start teaching kids to brush their teeth early. Habits stick at a young age. Learning one healthy habit paves the way for learning another.
According to a study by Brown University, it is much easier for kids to learn healthy habits up until age nine. From the toddler years until age nine, young children can pick up habits with relative ease. After that, habit formation becomes a much more conscious — and grueling — process.
Remember, frequent brushing is a good start but it is not enough on its own. Children also need frequent dentist appointments. Starting at six to 12 months, ask your dentist about pediatric dentistry and the necessary care for your child at each stage of their young lives.
While dental anxiety is common in people of all ages and can seem especially insurmountable among young children, it is important to keep appointments. Parents and dentists can work together to mitigate these fears. Parents can do their part by bringing along a child’s favorite toy. Dentists will take it from there by establishing a rapport with your children and by offering pain-free treatment options, like conscious sedation dentistry.
When it comes to a healthy smile dental hygiene is just the beginning. Healthy habit formation is a frequently overlooked perk.
2. Diligent Dental Care Helps Detect Diseases Early
Frequent tooth brushing can help us learn healthy habits at an early age. It can also help us detect disease months — or, in some cases, even years — before other symptoms rear their ugly heads.
“The mouth is a window into the health of the body,” The American Dental Association (ADA) writes. Certain conditions cause dental problems or lead to poor oral health. Others can exacerbate these issues or make staying healthy overall a more difficult thing to do.
For example, some health conditions worsen your body’s ability to stave off infection. Diabetes is one such condition. Similarly, HIV/AIDs weakens the immune system as well, resulting in worse oral health outcomes and a spike in aggravating conditions or symptoms, like mucosal lesions.
Osteoporosis weakens bones, ultimately leading to bone loss and periodontal bone loss.
Persistent bad breath, often linked to poor dental hygiene and unhealthy gums, may be related to kidney disease, liver disease, chronic lung infection, diabetes, or gastrointestinal problems.
All of these conditions have significant symptoms at their worst. However, these symptoms may come on slowly. For many, poor dental and oral health can be the first indication of a larger problem. When it comes to the absence of a healthy smile dental hygiene may not be your biggest problem. Dental hygiene does not exist in a vacuum. Poor dental health is one of the first signs of other problems as well.
3. Good Dental Hygiene Boosts Your Confidence
It may surprise you to learn that cosmetic dentistry services also weigh in heavily when it comes to your overall well-being. How?
Once again, while dental hygiene certainly can — and does — play a pivotal role in your physical health, it does a great deal more, too. In fact, your smile and dental hygiene can have a direct impact on your self-confidence. Your self-confidence, in turn, may affect your happiness, your relationships, and your career.
Don’t just take our word for it. There are plenty of studies to back it up. According to one study described in Hello! magazine, “More than a quarter of those asked admitted that they weren’t happy with the current appearance of their teeth, and two-thirds added that this had a negative impact on their confidence.” Patient.info reveals that over one-quarter (27%) of us routinely cover our teeth or otherwise hide them during photos.
Stop stressing over the way you look in-person and in pictures. Stop worrying about how others perceive you and how that affects your chances in romantic relationships or in your chosen career. Brush and floss regularly, invest in cosmetic dentistry, and know your options should the unexpected occur.
Emergency dentistry is available most hours of the day if you chip your tooth (whether it is a natural tooth or an artificial one), lose a tooth, or if you are in extreme pain that cannot wait.
In terms of a healthy smile dental hygiene is important, but it is not everything. Straight, even teeth, regularly cleaned teeth, and white teeth boost our confidence and overall mental health.
4. Dental Care Is Linked To Mental Health
Speaking of mental health, did you know that your teeth can be a strong indicator of a happy, healthy mind, too?
First, there is nothing wrong with experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is very common. Approximately 40 million U.S. adults show symptoms of anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA). Another 17.3 million will experience at least one depressive episode during their lives.
In addition to removing the stigma, an important part of treatment is recognizing symptoms early. Your dental health can actually help determine if you are experiencing anxiety or depression, according to WebMD.
“Along with symptoms such as cold sores, jaw and mouth pain are often signs of stress,” WebMD writes. Your dentist can help you treat any existing pains, toothaches, or gum disease, and help you take measures to prevent it in the future. For example, if your dental issues can be traced back to grinding your jaw, dental exams can help identify the problem. Dental exams will reveal worn teeth, highly sensitive teeth, and signs of recession. Once it becomes clear that you are grinding your teeth at night owing to stress, your dentist can address any glaring problems, provide you with appropriate dental gear to prevent nighttime tooth grinding, and make other helpful recommendations, like seeing a therapist to treat the root cause or causes of stress.
For a healthy smile dental hygiene, like brushing and flossing, is a good start. You may need a little extra TLC depending on the circumstances, however. If you are stressed with painful or worn-down teeth, ask your dentist about teeth grinding, clenching, or bruxism.
5. Crooked Or Misaligned Teeth Can Cause Health Problems
To many, orthodontics is about looks. Braces are about enduring months or years of pain for the end result: a perfectly straight smile. While braces do straighten your teeth, there are some important misconceptions there.
First, it is possible to straighten teeth with relatively little pain. Braces are just one of the many options available to you. Braces work by pushing or pulling teeth into their proper position. This puts constant pressure on your teeth, and, depending on your tolerance, can feel quite painful. Other options, like Invisalign, work by using a series of trays to gradually push your teeth into alignment. What’s more, is coming down in price and may not be significantly more costly than traditional braces. Look out for a dental practice sale for the best possible price.
Second, straightening your teeth isn’t just about looks. Unfortunately, misaligned teeth come along with an entire host of problems — and the vast majority of them are not cosmetic. Thanks to tight, cramped spaces between crooked tooth it is more difficult to clean them, leading to greater instances of gum disease. Crooked teeth may also rub up against each other more often, which may result in a lack of essential protective enamel.
That is not all. “Crooked teeth can also cause excess wear and tear on the teeth, gums, and jaw muscles, resulting in cracked teeth, jaw strain, temporomandibular joint disorder, and chronic headaches,” Healthline writes.
Once again, for a healthy smile dental hygiene is only the beginning. Sometimes, improving your dental health and/or oral health may require straightening your teeth. Ask your dentist for more information.
6. Unhealthy Gums May Lead To Heart Disease Or Cancer
When it comes to a healthy smile dental hygiene is just a part of it. A healthy smile can also help prevent serious medical conditions, like heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Without frequent brushing, regular flossing, and routine trips to the dentist, harmful bacteria can build up in your mouth. That bacteria doesn’t just stay there. According to the Oral Health Foundation, that bacteria ultimately travels into and through the blood system. The blood system carries bacteria to all parts of your body. This can lead to heart disease, oesophageal cancer, lung cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, maintaining healthy gums reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 70%.
Remember, it is never too late to treat dental problems or conditions that exacerbate cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. For example, adult orthodontics can be subtle and just as effective as orthodontic treatments at a young age. If you suspect that your teeth are negatively impacting your gums, make an appointment with your dentist right away.
7. Neglected Teeth May Cause Neck Pain And Frequent Headaches
For a healthy smile dental hygiene is a must. For a healthy smile and a healthy body, it is important to look deeper and consider what poor dental hygiene or poor oral health might mean.
For example, if you have persistent neck pain, frequent headaches, or unrelenting migraines, you may have wisdom teeth coming in or you may have an impacted wisdom tooth. Other signs include jaw pain, a swollen jaw, or bad breath. Ask a dentist about wisdom tooth removal, and take care to mention all symptoms to accurately gauge the severity of the problem and the likelihood of an impacted tooth.
Don’t needlessly contend with pain. Talk to a dentist today.
To achieve a healthy smile dental hygiene is a good start. There are several compelling reasons to take care of your smile and regularly see the dentist, including your improving your mental health, confidence, and overall physical health.
Don’t stop at brushing your teeth. For a healthy smile, dental hygiene includes brushing, flossing, twice-annual professional cleanings, eating the right foods, and avoiding the overconsumption of sugar.