My 4-year old son comes around the corner and I have the following dialogue with him…
ME: “Nathan, time to go brush your teeth…”
Nathan: “No, I don’t need to, Daddy…”
His voice carries a light, invisible cloud of noxious breath that causes the paint on the walls to bubble and forces the dog to retreat for cover in the basement…
Oral hygiene and dental health are extremely important. Perhaps more so than most people understand. While growing up, I remember that the standard was simply that you needed to brush regularly and floss in order to keep from losing your teeth. Since then, studies and medical advancements have proven just how serious the problems can become if you don’t pay proper attention to your mouth.
Let’s think about our mouths for a moment: it’s the entry point for your food and the air you breath. This means that you have a lot of stuff from the outside world that enters your body through your mouth. Like most surfaces on your body, your mouth is full of bacteria. Some of that bacteria is good, but the bad bacteria is what can lead to tooth decay, bacterial infections and gum disease.
Bacterial infections can be pretty serious, especially for Type 1 Diabetics. Our weakened immune systems make us more susceptible to infection and makes them worse. Just to make you grit your teeth harder, (see what I did there?) the gum disease caused by improper oral health can make it harder to control your blood sugar levels.
Even if you don’t have Diabetes, poor oral health can leave you susceptible to cardiovascular complications, pregnancy complication and pneumonia. So, what can you do to hep prevent those oral health issues?
Brushing your teeth is an obvious first step. Despite what some of us were taught as children, brushing three times a day (or after every meal, whichever is greater) is not necessary. According to the Mayo Clinic, brushing twice a day is what the current recommendation indicates. This means brushing once in the morning and once before bed. Despite this, most dentists still stick to “old faithful” and tell folks to brush three times a day. It’s not a bad thing.
Although some dentists have indicated that even once can be acceptable, you tend to run into some problems with that, including potential bad breath throughout the day and unsightly food stuck in your teeth if you’re out in public. If you only brush once a day, best to do it first thing in the morning to eliminate morning breath.
Be sure to floss. Most people overlook flossing or it bothers them. But flossing is required to eliminate the bits of food that can’t be removed by a toothbrush. Leaving that food between your teeth against the gum line can lead to an increase in bacteria.
Use an antibacterial mouthwash. Don’t forget that mouthwash is supposed to complement your dental routine and isn’t meant as a substitution for brushing.
Here are some articles posted by Colgate and WebMD that explain some of what I’ve written and can provide further insight: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/how-poor-dental-care-can-affect-your-overall-health-0313 and https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/oral-health-the-mouth-body-connection#2
Some other small changes can also help with improved oral health, such as avoiding staining drinks such as red wine or smoking tobacco products. And don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every few months. That s&*t gets gross!
So it may not have been a post about blood sugars or exercise, but proper oral hygiene can help prevent Diabetic complications and other issues that be aggravated by Diabetes. Why take chances when the prevention is so simple? And no, 9 out of 10 dentists did NOT ask me to write this post…☯