Every day, individuals converse with different people in their lives, from family members, friends, lovers, and coworkers to the barista they engage with while buying their go-to coffee in their favorite coffee shop. Talking and eating with one another or flashing their brightest to people around them is done to facilitate this integral human social function. To effectively perform this, one should have healthy teeth and mouths, which can be attained by having good oral health.
What is Oral Health?
Oral health refers to the overall state of the mouth, which includes teeth, gums, tongue, jawbones, throat, and other oro-facial systems that enable individuals to talk, eat, smile, and chew. It also comprises proper functioning and maintaining their holistic hygiene and cleanliness.
Why is it important to take care of your oral health?
It is vital to take care of one’s oral health, not just simply because it enables one to have healthier and whiter teeth, but also because it provides several benefits to different aspects of life, such as:
- Overall health: Having well-maintained oral health allows individuals to control and prevent bacteria present in the mouth from multiplying and entering the bloodstream. Hence, other health problems like cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, infective endocarditis, and others are prevented.
- Functional bite: Brushing, flossing, regular dental check-ups, and other good oral practices can lead to healthy teeth and gums, which fosters a strong and functional bite.Individuals with a good bite are able to effectively chew food, breaking it down into smaller particles for better digestion and easier nutrient absorption. Moreover, a good bite ensures that forces during chewing are evenly distributed across teeth, which lessens oral problems like fractures, uneven wear, and damage to teeth.
- Improved Quality of Life: Individuals who have good oral health are more comfortable chewing, eating, and speaking without discomfort or pain, which adds to their improved physical well-being and overall enjoyment of life. Also, properly maintained oral health allows individuals to eat a variety of nutritious foods, resulting in improved overall health and vitality.
- Self-confidence: Good oral health can result in cleaner and brighter teeth, which is a key component of one’s appearance. It boosts individuals self-confidence, enabling them to be more confident in interacting with other individuals, contributing to positive and impactful social interactions and relationship building with people around them.
- Long-term oral health: Consistently taking care of one’s oral health can lead to a better one in the long run. Hence, dental issues such as tooth decay, gum diseases, and others, which may entail more complex and expensive procedures, are prevented.
How to Take care of your oral health?
Achieving healthy teeth is a combination of consistent, every-day good oral practices, mindful food consumption, regular dental check-ups, opting for appropriate oral care products, and conscious daily habits. Here are some ways one could achieve good oral health:
- Regular brushing: This is one of the most basic yet pivotal ways of taking care of one’s oral health. Individuals must brush their teeth daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. It is also important to remember that the toothbrush must be replaced every 3–4 months or when the bristles fray.
- Flossing: Plaque and food particles may sometimes be difficult to reach and clean with a toothbrush alone. To address this, one can floss daily in order to remove them from the teeth and under the gumline. Proper flossing technique, like gently sliding the floss between one’s teeth and forming a C-shape to clean the sides of each tooth, is advised.
- Mouth Washing: The use of mouthwash should be done in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing. This liquid can help lessen the buildup of plaque on teeth and gums, which is the primary cause of gum inflammation. It also temporarily freshens the breath by killing bacteria in the mouth and neutralizing the odor.
- Regular dental check-ups: Visiting a Singapore dentist regularly can contribute to better oral health, as dentists provide professional cleanings to remove plaque, stains, and tartar that flossing and brushing cannot completely remove. Furthermore, regular dental visits enable the dentist to identify oral health issues before they worsen, leading to easier and less costly treatments.
- Eating a balanced diet: One should minimize consuming acidic foods and beverages, as acid can dissolve minerals like calcium in the tooth, which weakens the enamel, or the hard outer layer of teeth that protects against tooth decay. Similarly, bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars present in this type of food and other drinks. As they break down the sugar, acid is also produced.
- Using dental mouthguards: When participating in sports or other physical activities, one should wear mouthguards to protect those teeth in case of injury. Also, it is a dental treatment that helps patients who grind their teeth at night (bruxism) avoid serious wear and tear on their teeth that can result in fractures and damage to the enamel.
When mouth cleaning is not done properly, you may be at risk of incurring gum disease. To prevent this, your dentist may have to do deep gum cleaning. According to Dr Low Yi Han, experienced dentist and periodontist of PKWY Dental Specialist Practice in Singapore, deep gum cleaning involves intensive mouth cleaning, focusing on the gum line and root surface.
What are the factors that can compromise one’s oral health?
There are several factors that can lead to poor oral health, which individuals of different ages should be aware of or avoid.
- Poor oral hygiene: This includes infrequent brushing or improper use of a toothbrush or floss that leaves plaque and particles on teeth, promoting bacterial growth.
- Improper use of teeth: Using teeth in ways that are not intended for, like opening bottles, tearing packages, or biting hard objects, can lead to damage, injury, and other oral health problems.
- Smoking: The tar and nicotine present in tobacco can cause the teeth to become yellow or brown, as well as bad breath due to the accumulation of foul-smelling chemicals in the mouth.
- Alcohol consumption: A high level of alcohol consumption can result in dehydration and mouth dryness, which are conducive for bacteria to grow and other oral health issues.
- Genes and family history: Genes can influence the shape, size, and alignment of one’s teeth, making them more vulnerable to certain dental problems like crowding or spacing.
- Stress: Individuals experiencing stress may develop bruxism, where they clench or grind their teeth unconsciously when sleeping or when feeling tense. This can lead to jaw pain, tooth damage, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
- Medical Condition: There are numerous medical conditions, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and others, that can increase the risk of dental health issues, as these conditions can damage the bones or promote bacterial growth in the mouth.
The true measurement of good health is not just limited to having a good and healthy physique but also taking care of other aspects such as oral health, which is interrelated to one’s overall health. Oral health, such as proper oral hygiene, should be inculcated at a young age and practiced and maintained as one advances in age.