The impact a healthy mouth has on your body
Did you know that your oral health can influence your general health? Maarten Vaartjes from Amsterdam dentist Tandarts Jordaan explains.
We clean our teeth to avoid a toothache, bad breath and to maintain a radiant smile. However, it’s all too easy to skip dentist appointments or regular brushing when you’re negotiating a busy schedule or when you’re an expat travelling a lot for work. Be that as it may, many people don’t realise how much oral health can influence general health and wellbeing.
According to the American Academy of General Dentistry, for more than 90 percent of systemic diseases warning signs can be seen in the mouth, from diabetes to cardiovascular problems and HIV/AIDS. Maintaining good oral hygiene not only keeps your teeth sparkling white and your breath fresh, but by keeping your gums healthy you also reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and preterm labour during pregnancy.
When your oral hygiene routine is insufficient, bacteria get into the gaps around the gums, which in turn can get infected and swell, leading to the inflammation commonly known as “gingivitis”. Inflammation of the gums increases general inflammation in the body and your immune system has to work harder to reduce it.
What your dentist should be looking for
Co-owner and dentist at Tandarts Jordaan, Dr. Maarten Vaartjes, explains what a good quality dentist looks out for during a checkup: "Dental care does not begin or end with filling a cavity. Dentistry is about seeing the bigger picture, whilst focusing on the small details. Being aware of how small changes can have big effects. It is about taking time to care about people".
"During all of the years that I have worked as a dentist, I have learnt what really matters in dentistry: the relationships you build with people. You’re not just talking to people, you’re having a conversation. Often it helps to use visual aids, to show people where they have an accumulation of plaque or where a cavity is starting to develop. Awareness is the number one step to achieving results together”, he added.
The dental hygienist
A visit to the dental hygienist should be an important part of your regular dental care routine. Hygienists are professionals trained in preventative dental care, and are not to be confused with the dental assistant of days gone by. A good hygienist will check your mouth and gums, and is able to advise you on how you may be able to improve your daily oral hygiene routine.
They can also give your teeth a thorough cleanse to remove hardened plaque that you can't get at with your regular toothbrush alone and, when necessary, pass on information to the dentist who will check for cavities and other health-related problems. Working alongside the dentist, the hygienist helps you to maintain optimum dental health.
DIY dental care
What can you do yourself to make sure your teeth remain healthy? Here are some tips:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
Take two minutes, twice a day, to brush your teeth. Most people only brush between 30 seconds and one minute, leaving behind food and plaque that can lead to cavities, gingivitis and periodontitis. Make it count. Brush two minutes, twice a day!
- Drink water, don’t use mouthwash
In terms of reducing bad breath or plaque, mouthwash is no replacement for brushing and flossing your teeth. Additionally, alcohol-based mouthwash actually upsets the bacterial balance in the mouth, making it a better breeding ground for the kind of bacteria you're trying to reduce, drying out your mouth in the process. And a dry mouth can lead to... yep, you guessed it, bad breath...
- Use a toothpick
If you are not sure about using a toothpick, just try it once and smell the end of the pick afterwards. Feel like throwing up? You found your answer! Food that is left between your teeth rots and ends up smelling terrible!
- Don’t smoke
It’s difficult for some, we know, but don’t smoke. Your gums, oral and general health will all see an improvement and your body will thank you for it.
Maintaining your health
So, next time you find yourself rushing out the door without brushing your teeth, or skipping a visit to the dentist, take a moment to consider how a little thing like brushing twice a day can go a long way towards keeping you healthy in the long term.
Located in the historic centre of Amsterdam, Tandarts Jordaan dental care offers exceptional facilities and hygiene practices, skilled and experienced multilingual staff, personalised customer care and transparent pricing. For more info, fill in the form below.
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