22 Sep How Clean Teeth Make You Happier (And Healthier)
Teeth are in a category of their own. There’s nothing like it in or on your body.
Teeth are the hardest structure you have, harder than bones and nails. Bones are completely covered with soft tissue, and nails are exposed but sealed by the cuticles around your nails. Teeth are also exposed, but sit in a bed of very soft and easily penetrable gums. They sit in the mouth, which has more bacteria per square inch than anywhere else on your body. Nails are also surrounded by bacteria but not nearly to the quantities that teeth are. Nails generally sit in a dry environment and teeth are always wet.
Think of a tub full of dirty water that you left sitting around for a day. When you do drain it, there’s a layer of slime around it, that’s biofilm – just like on your teeth.
On teeth, those biofilms are called plaque, and they are filled with bacteria. Those bacteria sitting right next to your soft gums make the gums very infected, hence it tends to bleed when you brush. Every time your gums bleed, your blood vessels are exposed, and that allows direct entry of these bacteria into your blood stream.
Where these bacteria end up, no one knows. If they attach themselves onto the valves of your blood vessels or onto the inner lining of your heart, then that could lead to endocarditis. Bacteria can also attach to artificial bone replacement joints in your body.
You can never get rid of all bacteria that surround your teeth, but you can reduce their numbers.
Reducing the bacteria that surrounds your teeth will lead to healthier gums and lower risk of gum infection and their subsequent consequences (as discussed above). What’s ironic is that something that occupies such a small space in your body requires so much more work than the rest of your body. It’s because it’s a special organ that sit in a very dangerous environment. It’s special because it allows you to break down food so you can feed all your other organs. So knowing how special they are, it makes sense that you need to take special care of it.
That’s why brushing and flossing twice a day is important.
This environment gets an assault every time you put food in your mouth. The assaults are that the food can be too hot, too cold, too acidic, too sweet, too hard, etc. Think of all the textures and temperatures and all the bacteria your food carries and you get the picture. Imagine rubbing that food on a wound on any other parts of your body and you can figure out what could happen to those wounds.
For the rest of your body, if you have a wound and you want it to heal, you clean it and baby it. Because of the special environment your teeth sit in, you need to do more to maintain it. That’s why brushing and flossing twice a day is important.
And that’s also why regular maintenance with your hygienist who can de-barnacle your root surfaces that sit right at or below the gum is also very important.
You know when someone does not have good oral hygiene. You can see it.
Yellow films around their gums or black holes in their teeth, and you can smell it (gum disease breath is smelly breath.) Everyone cares about their appearance, and you always feel better after you’ve done something good for the body. For example, I don’t love to exercise, and during the active part of the exercise, I often want to quit because it is an unpleasant feeling. However, I have never regretted doing it after I’m done with it.
People who exercise a lot will say they love every minute of it. People who have good oral hygiene and who go regularly for their hygiene visits will also say they love every minute of it. It’s not that there is never a moment during your exercise (or during your hygiene appointment) that you don’t experience some sort of discomfort. But you know that this temporary feeling will pass and you will have achieved better health for it.
Conversely, people who never exercise will feel all sorts of pain and discomfort, some of the discomforts can be unbearable. The same is true for people who never get their teeth cleaned. Luckily for them, we have anesthetic, and the same can’t be said about your body when you exercise. The goal of exercise is long term body health. The goal of good oral hygiene is long term body health.
The goal of good oral hygiene is long term body health.
You’ve heard of that adage eat right and exercise. I know they mean eating the right food. But I will also say it extends to eating the right way. Eating the right way requires that you have functional teeth. Dentures are not functional teeth in my opinion. To keep teeth functioning, they often have to be in their correct alignment, for optimal biting forces, for ease of cleaning, and they look good to boot.
Most millennials have parents who have already invested in orthodontics for them as youngsters. Their job is an easy one, just continue to use their retainers, brush and floss regularly, and get regular hygiene visits. If you haven’t worn your retainers and your teeth have shifted somewhat, we can put it back easily with Invisalign.
And for those of us who don’t have straight teeth and find it hard to keep your teeth clean, it’s never a bad time to start straightening them. Just like exercise, it’s never too late to start.