Although maintaining your dental health should be part of your daily routine, there are certain events in life that make your mouth, teeth, and gums more vulnerable. All the parts of your mouth are very much connected to your entire body through pathways of blood vessels, nerves, and passages, so oral health is part of overall wellbeing.
Cold and Flu Season
When you come down with a cold or the dreaded flu, your body is tired from fighting off chills, aches, and fevers, and it’s easy to disregard your daily brushing and flossing. However, taking the time to care for your mouth while you’re sick is actually crucial to your recovery! Not only do you feel better after refreshing your mouth while the rest of your body feels run down, but you are also washing away harmful bacteria and viruses that can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours- including your lips!
- Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush once you’ve recovered from your illness, and if you use an electric toothbrush, simply replace the brush head. This also goes for water irrigation devices or other apparatuses used for oral care. Make sure everything is disinfected once you are feeling better.
- It’s best to choose sugar-free cough medicines and drops as they are known to contain a high amount of sugar, which can stick to your teeth and quickly begin to cause decay if you’re not brushing regularly. Remember, cavity-causing bacteria thrive on sugar, even if it comes in the form of medicine!
- If your illness is causing you to vomit frequently, be sure to wash your mouth out after each occurrence. Don’t brush your teeth immediately after vomiting, however, as the acid from vomit weakens tooth enamel temporarily. Brushing while enamel is soft can permanently damage it, especially if done repeatedly. Rinsing with a diluted solution of water and baking soda can help neutralize the acidity. It’s best advised to brush 30 minutes after each instance.
- Choose the fluids you drink wisely. When you’re fighting a bug, most commonly, people will recommend you stock up on sugary sports drinks with electrolytes, orange juice, and tea with sugary honey and acidic lemon. While all of these fluids have their value, make sure the primary source of your fluids is water, while the rest are taken in moderation unless advised by a doctor. There are many good sugar-free electrolyte drinks also available that can be consumed instead and tea without anything added can still be helpful and tasty.
When Diagnosed with Disease
A diagnosis can be scary with any disease, but when the body is fighting an illness or disorder, it’s important not to neglect your oral health. Those dealing with ailments are at risk of advanced decay, periodontal disease, viral infections, abscesses, tooth loss, and more. Speaking to your dental professional is imperative if you’ve been diagnosed and especially if you are undergoing treatment or are taking medication. Medical conditions most often affecting dental health:
- Renal disease
- Sleep apnea
A woman’s body incurs many changes throughout pregnancy due to changes in hormones, and unfortunately, sometimes, they can really take a toll on oral health. If you already have excellent oral health prior to becoming pregnant is much less likely that you’ll experience any issues. While not every pregnant woman will suffer from some form of oral malady while expecting, there are still certain things to look out for and be aware of:
- Dental health can impact the health of the developing baby. There have been links shown between gum disease and babies who are born prematurely carrying health risks like cerebral palsy as well as heating and eyesight abnormalities.
- It’s estimated that 18% of premature births may be triggered by periodontal disease, chronic inflammation of the gums.
- The most common causes of dental issues during pregnancy are often caused by vomiting, sugary food cravings, problems with brushing due to nausea, and inflammation of the gums due to hormonal surges.
- It’s recommended that pregnant women switch to softer toothbrushes and water irrigation systems in lieu of dental floss.
- Be sure to tell your dentist when you become pregnant to schedule regular cleanings during the 9 months in order to prevent gingivitis, periodontal disease, and pregnancy epulis, of enlargement of the gums.
If you’ve recently started wearing braces, whether they are the metal kind or plastic aligner trays, you are probably already more aware of your teeth than ever before. Since your mouth now contains an orthodontic device 24 hours a day (22 for those with aligners), new methods must be implemented to ensure cavities are kept at bay.
- Make sure to floss! Even if you have metal wires connecting brackets, it’s crucial to remove food particles that get stuck between teeth and sometimes between wires and brackets. While traditional string floss can be frustrating, water irrigation devices make the whole ordeal much quicker and simpler by blasting the bad stuff with a small pressurized stream of water.
- Brush 30 minutes after eating. This especially goes for people who wear aligner systems. Encasing teeth in plastic trays after they’ve chewed sugary or acidic food can quickly accelerate the development of cavities as bacteria now have a warm and moist breeding ground where saliva or water can’t wash them away.
- Keep up with your cleanings. Even though it may seem like a hassle to go for a cleaning every 3 months, it can spare you a lot of trouble since you are avoiding costly and painful situations like gum disease and cavities between the teeth, which can severely impede orthodontic progress, potentially altering the treatment and causing you to have to wear them longer.
Think of your mouth as a pathway to your overall health. Teeth are not merely for chewing food, and your gums are not just there to keep them in place. All of these features of oral health can significantly help or hurt your wellbeing depending on your dedication to proper hygiene habits and visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups!