Posts Under Oral Hygiene

Mounting scientific evidence linking a bacterial pathway from the mouth to vital organs and body systems has physicians and dentists warning higher risk patients to ‘get their mouths cleaned up’.  

Gum Disease and Heart Disease
The American Heart Association claims that patients with poor oral hygiene resulting in chronic gum infections (or chronic bronchitis) have more than twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack or stroke than people without gum disease, as well as an increased risk of respiratory disease.

These claims are consistent with earlier reports  of a link between chronic infections and atherosclerosis (or thickening of the arteries).  Evidence is mounting that bacteria that cause periodontal disease may cause deposit of ‘plaques’ onto the inner lining of blood vessels.  These thickened areas on the inner walls of arteries cause further small blood clots to form that can contribute to clogged arteries and build up of fatty deposits within the heart arteries.

Gum Disease and Diabetes
Aside from an increased risk of stoke or hearth attack, chronic gum disease has also been interrelated with diabetes.  All the tell tales signs of chronic gum disease (increased bleeding of gums, bone loss around teeth, and increased pocketing around the teeth) may also be an indicator of the early signs of diabetes.  On the flip side, one of the related problems of diabetes is gum disease.  Uncontrolled or high levels of blood sugar can be damaging to the teeth and gums.  As a result, diabetic patients require more frequent professional care to make sure that their oral hygiene is maintained.  Increased frequency of dental visits and better home care are very important for diabetics.

Gum Disease and Low Birthweight Babies
Gum disease has now been shown to be a clinically significant risk factor for having premature or low birthweight babies. Mothers with periodontal disease may be at a 7 times greater risk for having a premature or low birthweight baby.  

Gum Disease and Smoking
Smoking and periodontal disease are linked as well. Smoking reduces the blood supply to the surrounding bone of the tooth. The intense heat and toxins produced during smoking can also affect the bacterial composition of the mouth and the body's immune response to periodontal bacteria. Smoking reduces the effect of periodontal therapy regardless of the level of oral hygiene.

Bottom line: Brush and floss. It could save your life! 

Bad breath (halitosis), well known for its negative social connotations, is a condition that may also be a sign of poor health.    Ninety percent (90%) of halitosis originates in the mouth, caused primarily by the sulfur containing by-products left from the digestion of protein by the bacteria found in plaque.  These are some of the same bacteria associated with gingivitis and periodontitis,  with most of the halitosis causing bacteria mainly found on the tongue.  The remaining causes of bad breath originate from sources outside of the mouth, including the upper and lower respiratory tract, the stomach, and intestines.

The halitosis that originates in the mouth is primarily due to inadequate plaque control, periodontal disease, dry mouth, faulty restorations, and in particular due to excessive bacterial growth on the back surface of the tongue.

The management of halitosis may involve a combination of specific treatments to maintain plaque control, including the elimination of active periodontal disease, the correction of older dental restoration that are acting as food traps, and the routine cleaning of the surface of the tongue.  Oral rinsing with a mouthwash may be indicated in some instances, but without proper oral hygiene to control plaque buildup (brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning), this would only be a temporary measure.

April is Oral Health Month in Ontario, an important time to become aware of the link between your oral health and your overall health.  The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 3,400 new cases of oral cancer were diagnosed in Canada in 2010. It is also estimated that 1,150 of those Canadians diagnosed in 2010 will die from the disease.

As oral health experts, dentists are uniquely qualified to help in the early detection of many medical conditions, including cancer.  Being trained in medicine, dentists are able to recognize the relationships between oral and overall health.  Since most people see their dentists regularly, they are often the first health-care professionals to have an opportunity to detect the many health conditions that affect your mouth.  Many patients are not aware of the extent that a dental exam can play in disease prevention.  Without an examination by a dentist, most early signs of oral cancer are difficult to detect.  If you notice a mouth sore or anything out of the ordinary that does not go away or heal after a couple of weeks, discuss it with your dentist.

Risk Factors for oral cancer include:

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco - particularly if combined with heavy alcohol consumption
  • Heavy alcohol consumption - particularly if combined with smoking
  • Excessive sun exposure - particularly to the lip
  • Age - people over the age of 40 have a higher risk of developing oral cancer
  • Gender - men are more susceptible than women to developing oral cancer.  In the past, men had a 6:1 ratio of incidence of oral cancer compared to women.  However, this ratio is narrowing and is now closer to a 2:1 ratio
  • HPV - more research is emerging that connects human papillomavirus infection - especially HPV-16 - with oral cancers
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables - fruit and vegetables have a protective factor that is believed to reduce the risk for oral cancers.


  • See a dental professional for a regular dental exam
  • Quitting (or reducing) your tobacco and alcohol use lowers your risk of developing oral cancer
  • When you are outside and exposed to the sun, use lip balm with UV protection and wear a hat
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Brush and floss your teeth daily

The mouth has long been recognized as a mirror reflecting the health of the body.  With regular visits to your dentist and good oral health routines, you will have lots to smile about!:)



Brushing Techniques

April 16, 2010 | Posted Oral Hygiene | 2 - Comments

Brushing is the most effective method for removing harmful plaque from your teeth and gums. Getting the debris off your teeth and gums in a timely manner prevents bacteria in the food you eat from turning into harmful, cavity causing acids.

Most dentists agree that brushing three times a day is the minimum; if you use a fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before bed at night, you can get away without using toothpaste during the middle of the day.

A simple brushing with plain water or rinsing your mouth with water for 30 seconds after lunch will generally do the job.

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