Oral Health and Medical implications:
Oral Hygiene instruction:
The most important part to look after is the area between the gum and the tooth (crown). This must be kept scrupulously clean to avoid any inflammation, which may lead to implant failure. The modern electric toothbrush has been scientifically proven to be better at removing plaque (the main cause of inflammation). Be careful not to damage the gum around your teeth; firm but not excessive pressure is all that is needed. Don’t forget to clean the back/inside of your teeth—an area that is easily missed if you are in a hurry!
If you are using a manual toothbrush, ensure that the head is not too large to clean in and around all the surfaces of the teeth. Bristles should be soft or medium, avoid hard bristles. Do not use a vigorous scrubbing action.
Cleaning between the teeth:
Interdental brushes are described by our dental hygienists as “miracle workers” because they allow you to clean where your toothbrush cannot i.e. between the teeth. These little brushes come in different shapes and sizes, and when dipped in an antiseptic mouthwash before use, they significantly enhance the removal of plaque.
Alternatively, instead of interdental brushes, you can use dental floss to clean the spaces in between the teeth. If you are bewildered by the array of flosses and brushes available today, our dentists and hygienists will advise you at each visit on the type best suited to you and how best to use them.
Mouthwashes are also an excellent adjunct to promoting your oral health. Again, there are a myriad of products available, and we will be able to advise you on which one is best suited to you.
Coronary heart disease and Oral Health:
We’re probably all guilty of it: we think that if something’s not bothering us right now then it’s easy to forget about it. Unfortunately, people with dental health problems, even completely painless ones, may be putting themselves at more risk than they realise.
Researchers have found that people with periodontal (gum) disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without. The relationship is not completely understood, but we know that people with healthy mouths are more likely to have healthy hearts and vice versa. Having periodontal disease can also increase your risk of stroke.
Pregnancy and oral health:
Women who are trying to become pregnant should prioritise their dental health, after recent research has shown that gum disease potentially can lengthen the time it takes for a woman to become pregnant by an average of an extra two months. For the first time, fertility experts have shown that, from the time that a woman starts trying to conceive, poor oral health can have a significant effect on the time to pregnancy.
And if a mum to be has untreated gum disease, she may be more likely to have a baby that is born prematurely and potentially of lower birth weight.
Diabetes and oral health:
If you have diabetes, make sure you take care of your mouth. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for mouth infections, especially periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can damage the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place and may lead to painful chewing problems. Some people with serious gum disease lose their teeth. Periodontal disease may also make it hard to control your blood glucose (blood sugar).
Other problems diabetes can cause are dry mouth and a fungal infection called thrush. Dry mouth happens when you do not have enough saliva—the fluid that keeps your mouth wet. Diabetes may also cause the glucose level in your saliva to increase. Together, these problems may lead to thrush, which causes painful white patches in your mouth.
You can keep your teeth and gums healthy by controlling your blood glucose, brushing and flossing every day, and visiting a dentist regularly. If your diabetes is not under control, you are more likely to develop oral health problems.
If you have diabetes, follow these steps:
- Control your blood glucose.
- Brush and floss (or use interdental brushes) every day.
- Visit your dentist regularly and be sure to tell us if you have diabetes, and how controlled it is.
- Tell your dentist if your dentures (false teeth) do not seem to fit well, or if your gums are persistently sore.
- Quit smoking as this makes gum disease worse. Your GP or dentist can help you stop.
Take time to check your mouth regularly for any problems. Sometimes people notice that their gums bleed when they brush and floss. Others notice dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. All of these are reasons to visit your dentist.
Remember, good blood glucose control can help prevent oral health problems while high blood glucose can cause teeth and gum problems.