What is good oral hygiene?
- Good oral Hygiene means that the mouth looks & smells healthy.
- Your teeth are clean and free of food remains.
- Gums are pink and do not bleed when you brush
- No bad breath (Halitosis)
How is good oral hygiene practiced?
Daily preventive care includes proper brushing & flossing. This will prevent problems before they develop, less painful and cheaper to treat. Treating conditions that have been allowed to progress for a longtime may be difficult with complications. It is advisable to visit your dentist or hygienist one or twice a year.
Simple steps to reduce tooth decay & gum diseases are:
- Brushing thoroughly twice a day & flossing
- Eating a balanced diet & limiting snacks between meals.
- Using a good mouthwash if your dentist advices you to do so.
Proper brushing Technique
- Tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gum line and roll the brush away from the gum line.
- Gently brush outside, inside & chewing surfaces of each tooth using short back and forth strokes.
- Gently brush the tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.
Can medical conditions have an effect on oral health?
Yes, medical conditions can have oral side effects. Dry mouth (xerostomia) being the most common. Be sure to tell your dentist about any medications that you're taking including over the counter drugs (i.e., non – prescribed)
Some are like:
- Anti histamines (anti – allergens)
- Analgesics (pain killers)
- High blood pressure medications
Few medications can cause abnormal bleeding while brushing/ flossing, inflamed / ulcerated tissues in the mouth and also burning sensation.
If you experience any of these symptoms, then consult your dentist.
Diabetes and oral health problems:
- Emerging research suggests that relationship between serious gum disease and diabetes is two way.
- Report on oral health states that good oral hygiene is integral to general health.
- People with diabetes due to impairment of blood flow to the gums leads to increased propensity to infection thus leading to severe gum diseases.
- Chronic Periodontitis - which is a bacterial infection induces insulin resistance leading to diabetes.
- Thus individuals with severe gum diseases have an increased risk (twice) of diabetes compared to healthy mouth.
People with diabetes can have:
- Periodontal (gum) disease that gets worse rapidly
- Gum inflammation (gingivitis)
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Early lose of teeth compared to non – diabetics.
- Poor healing of ulcers in the mouth
- Oral candidiasis (fungal infection)
- Burning sensation in the Mouth / Tongue
- Dry mouth causes tooth decay, because it is only the saliva that has the capacity to continuously wash away sugars and food particles that are fuel for decay causing bacteria. So practice regular oral hygiene to prevent decay.
How to prevent dental problems associated with diabetes?
- First and foremost control your blood glucose levels
- Take good care of your teeth and gums.
- Regular check-ups at your dentist every 6 months
To avoid developing fungal infection:
- Maintain good diabetic control
- Avoid smoking
- If you wear dentures, remove and clean them daily.
Uncontrolled diabetics may need to take antibiotics before and after dental treatment to avoid the risk of bacterial infection:
- Take your insulin and eat normally before visiting your dentist.
- Take with you a source of glucose (glucose tablet, crackers, cookies or any carbohydrate) to the dental office – to prevent hypoglycemia.
- Make sure your dentist is aware if you have low blood glucose when you last took insulin and ate food.
- If you are wearing braces meet an orthodontist
- If you are wearing dentures/ acrylic appliances meet a prosthodontist.
- Have bleeding gums and mobile teeth meet a periodontist
Thus good oral health can result in better outcomes for diabetics. A Dentist can also be the catalyst in the prevention and treatment of diabetes. Good habits and optimal glucose control can save your smile for a longtime.