The Consequences of Neglecting Dental Hygiene and How to Avoid Them
Importance of Dental Hygiene
Good dental hygiene is the key to a captivating smile, strong teeth, and fresh breath. This involves caring for your teeth and gums through daily at-home care and routine dentist visits. If you want a bright, radiant smile and a healthy mouth, learn about the consequences of neglecting dental hygiene and how to avoid them.
What Are the Signs of Dental Neglect?
When dental hygiene falls by the wayside, the consequences can be surprisingly widespread, impacting your mouth and body in various ways. Here are some common examples of how dental hygiene negligence affects your health:
- Bad breath: While occasional bad breath may occur after eating certain foods, chronic bad breath, or halitosis, is an early sign of poor oral hygiene. Failing to remove trapped food particles from your mouth leads to unchecked bacteria growth, resulting in a foul odor that mints and mouth sprays can’t mask.
- Cavities: Tooth decay occurs when your teeth are exposed to acid from bacteria feeding on dietary sugars in your mouth. This acid erodes the tooth enamel, creating small holes or cavities. Failing to seek dental treatment promptly may lead to further tooth damage, unsightly discoloration, and toothaches.
- Receding gums and gum disease: Poor dental hygiene often leads to plaque buildup, causing gum inflammation or gingivitis. If ignored, the gums may begin to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that harbor more bacteria, leading to full-fledged gum disease.
- Tooth loss: When cavities and gum disease go untreated, these problems can progress until they infect your teeth, jaw bone, and connective tissue. A root canal or other treatment may reverse the infection, but if the tooth is loose or severely infected, it may fall out or require extraction by a dentist.
- Diabetes: The relationship between poor oral health and diabetes goes both ways. Gum disease can make it harder to control blood sugar levels, leading to worsened diabetes. Conversely, diabetes increases the risk of developing gum disease due to decreased immunity.
- Kidney disease: The inflammation from chronic gum disease weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. This puts you at risk for kidney disease and other related conditions.
- Heart disease: Many studies have found correlations between gum disease and heart disease. Although the exact reason isn’t clearly understood, research suggests that harmful bacteria from your mouth enter your bloodstream and attach to the fatty plaques in your heart’s blood vessels, leading to inflammation and raising the risk of clots that can trigger a heart attack.
Best Habits for Proper Dental Care
Learning the effects of poor dental hygiene may be disconcerting, but the good news is that you can keep these risks at bay with proper dental care. Here’s what a good oral hygiene routine entails:
- Brush twice a day: Brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste removes food particles and plaque from your teeth, preventing decay. Make sure you brush for a full two minutes at least twice a day.
- Floss daily: Flossing is easy to neglect, but it’s crucial for removing plaque and food particles from areas where your toothbrush can’t reach, like between the teeth and below the gum line. Floss at least once a day to help prevent gum disease and cavities.
- Rinse with mouthwash: Mouthwash isn’t a substitute for brushing and flossing, but it can complement your routine. A good fluoride mouthwash freshens your breath and removes the biofilm—a thin layer of bacteria—from your teeth, gums, tongue, and cheeks.
- Use the right equipment: Most dentists recommend using a toothbrush with soft bristles to prevent gum damage and enamel erosion. Replace it every three to four months—sooner if the bristles become frayed. You may also want to upgrade to an electric toothbrush for superior brushing capabilities. Then, choose toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride, a mineral that prevents cavities by strengthening the enamel.
- Chew sugarless gum after meals: While brushing after eating is ideal, it isn’t always practical. Chewing sugarless gum is the next best thing, increasing saliva flow to naturally wash away food particles and neutralize harmful acids.
- Drink plenty of water: With no added sugars or colors, water is the best way to keep your mouth moist, wash away food particles, and neutralize acids produced by oral bacteria.
- Visit the dentist regularly: Routine dental check-ups and teeth cleanings help you identify oral health issues when they’re most treatable. The recommended guideline is to visit the dentist twice a year—more frequently if you have a higher risk of oral diseases.
Safeguarding your dental hygiene demonstrates a commitment to your overall well-being. At Donahue Dental, we share this commitment, offering personalized, comprehensive dental care to address each patient’s unique needs. With our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced dental professionals on staff, you can expect the very best care from us. Call our office today at (636) 946-6117 to request a dentist appointment in St. Charles or St. Peters, MO.