Your teeth are important. We all know that. Who doesn’t want a beautiful smile? We may be motivated to keep our smiles looking attractive, but our dental health is important in many other ways. Let’s start with a few facts. Did you know that your teeth are the hardest substance in the human body? With regular brushing, you will spend about 38 ½ days of your life brushing your teeth. The average going rate the tooth fairy pays for a tooth these days is $6.23 (up from $2 in 2016). Now that you know that, let’s talk about what you may not know about oral health.
What’s Lurking in Your Mouth?
The average person produces 25,000 quarts of saliva in a lifetime. To help with the visual, that is enough to fill two swimming pools! Wow! Within one little drop of saliva lives over 100 million bacteria. Saliva and the bacteria in it do a lot of good for your mouth. Saliva helps keep your mouth moist and comfortable, aids in taste and chewing and contains proteins and minerals that protect tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
On the other hand, certain bacteria can be bad not only for your mouth but other parts of your body. The mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body, including your organs. A study by the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Japan discovered a potential link between bad bacteria in the mouth and other cardiovascular events.
Gum Disease and Your Heart
Have you ever experienced traces of blood in your saliva after you brush your teeth? Did you chalk it up to brushing too hard? Don’t ignore this symptom; it can indicate gum disease. Gum or periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue that supports your teeth. It is often a cause of tooth loss in adults but can have heavier implications if not treated. In April 2012, the American Heart Association issued a statement supporting an association between gum disease and heart disease. Scarier still is a study published in the Journal of Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, which indicated breast cancer risk is up to three times higher in women with gum disease.
Ways to Help Your Oral Health
The good news is that there are many things you can do to manage your dental health. Make sure you don’t ignore signs of mouth, teeth or gum issues, as these signs can really save you. 90% of life-threatening diseases have some sort of oral symptoms. Be vigilant in caring for your mouth. Routine brushing after meals, flossing twice a day, and an antibacterial mouthwash can ensure you remove food sources from your teeth that contain harmful bacteria. Keeping your diet in check by minimizing sugary and starchy foods and choosing foods known to produce healthy bacteria is also a good idea. Of course, regular visits to your dentist for cleaning and exams can help catch any issues that arise.
Routine visits one to two times a year to your dentist for cleaning and exams can help with any issues that arise. If you have oral symptoms that you may be concerned about, don’t wait; make an appointment. The saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, rings true regarding your oral health!
This article was originally published in March 2016 and has been recently updated.