The importance of oral hygiene
Alexa Montecillo (The Freeman) - January 30, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Most people think that brushing and flossing the teeth is all about having a healthy smile. Some say they do it in order to prevent dental carries and gum disease; others do it to keep breath fresh and minty. Actually, proper oral hygiene goes farther than simply clean teeth and fresh breath - it is one of the best ways to help maintain good overall health, according to the website

The website's Dr. Pete Richards, DDS, MAGD, points out that the teeth are very important to one's nutrition. The teeth are the first step in the digestive process - one uses the teeth to chew his food! Practicing good oral hygiene habits, Dr. Richards says, helps maintain lasting durability and function of the teeth.

He warns that poor habits can lead to cavities, tooth loss, and infected or inflamed gums, all of which hamper one's ability to eat healthy foods. Why is that? Because when the teeth are painful, the person is less likely to eat fresh, vitamin-rich foods for better, long-term health, Dr. Richards explains.

It may not seem clear how having clean, well-cared-for teeth is linked to being healthy overall, but Dr. Richards assures that science continues to find links between oral and general health. He cites examples:

• Women with gum disease show a greater incidence of pre-term, low-birth-weight babies.

• People with poor oral hygiene show an increased risk of developing heart disease.

• Infections of the mouth pose serious risks to other major organs.

• Problems chewing can lead to intestinal failure, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.

Good oral hygiene is everything one does to keep the mouth, teeth and especially the gums healthy, according to Dr. Richards. Doing this though requires more than brushing once a day, he says. The daily oral care should include:

• Brushing thoroughly at least twice a day

• Flossing at least once a day

• Using a mouthwash will help kill germs but isn't totally necessary

And Dr. Richards reminds everyone to trust the dentist. People look after their teeth on the day-to-day, but the dentist looks after their teeth and bone structure holistically. The dentist can spot problem areas and treat any issues before these become more problematic, he explains.

The dentist can also help by giving ways for one to improve oral care techniques between visits. Thus, Dr. Richards says, it's very important to schedule routine visits to the dentist every six months, and sooner if any pain or discomfort is noticed, or there has been injury in the mouth.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research emphasizes that it's important to take care of the mouth and teeth starting in childhood; otherwise, one could have problems with the teeth and gums like cavities or even tooth loss. The Institute prescribes the following steps for mouth care, to keep the mouth and teeth healthy:

• Brush your teeth every day with a fluoride toothpaste,

• Clean between your teeth every day with floss or another type of between-the-teeth cleaner,

• Snack smart - limit sugary snacks,

• Don't smoke or chew tobacco,

• See your dentist or oral health professional regularly. (FREEMAN)  

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