Procrastination is always tempting–and let’s face it, there are many things in life that we can put off for a while. However, our teeth are not something we can ignore. There are real consequences for letting our oral health fall by the wayside, and an effective dental hygiene routine is a must to keep our teeth and ourselves as healthy and happy as possible. By pulling back the veil and revealing the hidden toll of neglected oral hygiene, we can all better understand the importance of taking care of our teeth and gum–and the consequences if we don’t.
What comprises good oral hygiene?
The foundations of good oral hygiene are a regular and effective brushing and flossing routine alongside a healthy diet low in starches and sugars and high in vegetables and protein. Maintaining good oral hygiene also means making regular visits to the dentist’s office for exams and cleanings. Regular exams help ensure that your teeth are healthy and enable your dentist to check for any signs of trouble, while regular cleanings help keep your teeth bright and shiny while preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
What happens if we neglect our oral hygiene?
There are some clues in the preceding paragraph, but let’s explore them in a bit more depth. If left uncleaned, your teeth will quickly become covered in a sticky film called plaque. Dental plaque is composed of debris left behind after eating and drinking, the bacteria that feed on these substances in your mouth, and the wastes those bacteria in turn produce. This is an ugly combination, and left unchecked plaque can harden into dental tartar–also known as dental calculus.
Plaque and tartar can cause horrible damage to your teeth if left unchecked. The first signs of trouble will likely be bad breath, stick or hard buildup on the teeth, and bleeding gums. Bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease–bacteria below the gumline infect the gums leading to swelling, tenderness, discoloration, and bleeding. This is bad enough on its own, but if allowed to progress it can lead to receding gums, tooth loss, and even damage to the bones of the jaw.
It’s not just our gums that are affected by neglected oral hygiene. Our teeth can be directly affected as well. Bacteria on the teeth produce acidic wastes, which if allowed to build up can eat through the outer enamel layer of the tooth leading to cavities–also called dental caries. Cavities allow bacteria to attack the softer inner tissues of the tooth, leading to infection and tooth loss. Our teeth are permanent and while prosthetics have come a long way they’re still not as good as our natural teeth, so losing a tooth is a huge (and often preventable) consequence of poor oral health.
How to avoid the consequences?
A good diet helps–avoiding sugary or starchy foods that feed bacteria goes a long way toward keeping our mouths healthy. Limiting or avoiding alcohol and tobacco can help promote healthy teeth and gums as well. And nothing replaces regular and effective brushing and flossing when it comes to maintaining good oral health–a solid daily dental hygiene routine is a must!
Finally, regular exams and cleanings from your dentist are of vital importance in maintaining a healthy smile. Don’t neglect this aspect of oral hygiene–get in touch today and we’ll make an appointment to get you in for an exam, cleaning, and the next steps towards better oral health!