There's a reason we all love amazing, sparkling, even dazzling teeth — they not only make you look like a million dollars, but we happen to be hardwired to associate white and well-shaped teeth as a key signal of good genes and overall great health.
On the other hand, bad teeth are not only unsightly but, according to recent research, poor dental hygiene could lead to a range of conditions and diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Now, it turns out, there’s a real link between oral and body health and many physicians are starting with the mouth in their diagnoses into suspected problems.
It's not surprising, because the mouth is the gateway to the body, and if there's a buildup of bacteria along the teeth and gums due to poor oral hygiene, for instance, those areas can become inflamed with infection. If it's not properly dealt with, there's the possibility that it can spread elsewhere in the body. And if there's a case of inflammation that begins in the mouth, it can reduce the body's ability to control the level of blood sugar, which could lead to diabetes.
Taking Care of Your Teeth
Ideally, we would all have great oral hygiene and visit the dentist every six months for a checkup and to have our teeth professionally cleaned. The reality for many people, however, is that often this just does not happen. While lots of us brush our teeth at least once a day, as well as floss and use mouthwash — and some dental-hygiene superstars also do it in the morning and after every meal — there are too many of us who rarely, if ever, go to the dentist at all, and only in cases of severe emergency.
It’s a shame. Teeth are complex and, despite appearances, can be delicate and prone to all sorts of issues if not cared for the right way. Dentists are here to ensure we enjoy our teeth and that they last our lifetimes, but too many people only see dentists as a kind of last resort, such as when a throbbing toothache just will not go away and after days of suffering they finally give in and go to their dentist for treatment.
And then apart from the medical side of things, there's the aesthetic aspect of teeth: few among us have perfectly straight and aligned choppers, as they can stick out in all directions and, sometimes, not just look unsightly but also cause problems with eating and closing the mouth. These days, orthodontic treatment in Ireland and other places is relatively affordable, painless and world-class, so there's little reason to shy away from fixing any issues with your teeth.
Great Teeth and Robust Health
You can also tell a lot about a person's diet by looking at their teeth. Clean and sparkling gnashers may well be a sign that you follow a clean and healthy diet, one that's high in fruits, vegetables, unprocessed foods and lots of water. But if you're guzzling sugary drinks all day and love to eat burgers, pizza and other kinds of fast food, the result may not just be in your waistline but also where people can immediately see them — with tooth decay and other dental problems taking centre stage.
And if you have worse habits than that, such as substance abuse, or if you’re battling bulimia, your teeth will almost certainly suffer from erosion due to stomach acid, dry mouth, grinding teeth — and the list goes on. Cocaine, for example, can crack the enamel on teeth, especially if it's smoked in crack form. Snorting coke can lead to tissue damage in the upper palate, causing a hole to form between the nose and mouth, and rubbing it on the gums can create sores that can become infected. And then there's the whole matter of people struggling with addiction not really caring about their dental hygiene, as they are fixated on getting more drugs or, hopefully, recovering.
But if you open your mouth and smile at the world with perfect, pearly white teeth, the world will almost certainly smile back at you.