Can Poor Dental Hygiene Cause Stomach Problems?

Can Poor Dental Hygiene Cause Stomach Problems?

Healthy teeth aren’t just essential for a brighter and whiter smile, they help us chew our food and sense when food or drink is too hot or too cold, although teeth that are too sensitive may be problematic and a sign of thinning enamel. Moreover, dental problems that go untreated don’t just impact oral health, they can have a great impact on our whole bodies, causing many different health concerns, including stomach and bowel problems.

But how does dental hygiene cause stomach issues? Let’s take a look.

How Are Dental Hygiene and Stomach Problems Related?

When we maintain good oral hygiene, we’re not just removing leftover food from the gaps between our teeth, we’re removing harmful bacteria and the sugars that they can feed on to reproduce and spread in our mouths. Bacteria are harmful in large quantities in our mouths as they form a film over our teeth known as dental plaque, which damages the protective enamel covering our teeth and causes holes known as cavities to form in the teeth. 

When we eat and drink, if our mouths are full of harmful bacteria, the food and drink wash the harmful bacteria into our digestive system, down our throats, into our stomachs and then pass through our bowels. This bacteria from our mouths that has been caused by poor dental hygiene, can then go on to cause stomach problems. 

The most common stomach problems caused by poor dental hygiene are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)

It’s natural to have some bacteria in your mouth, in fact, some bacteria are necessary to keep our mouths clean and keep the so-called bad bacteria at bay. However, by not looking after our teeth, we allow the bad bacteria to spread in our mouths and wash into our gastrointestinal system. This can irritate the stomach lining as well as the sensitive inner lining of our intestines, causing pain and diarrhoea. 

What Other Health Problems Can Poor Dental Hygiene Cause?

Not only can harmful bacteria spread into our digestive system, but when harmful bacteria remain in the mouth, it can also spread into our bloodstream. As plaque builds up and cavities form in our teeth, the harmful bacteria reach the innermost part of the tooth known as dental pulp. Dental pulp is a sensitive substance related to the gums, and when it comes into contact with harmful bacteria, can become inflamed and infected. 

This infection then spreads into the bloodstream, travelling through the blood vessels in the body, causing our bodies’ natural defence systems to react, causing inflammation in the blood vessels. This can impact our whole cardiovascular system, potentially leading to very serious health conditions such as:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

More studies need to be conducted into the direct connection between poor dental hygiene and some of these serious conditions, however, the small number of studies that have taken place indicate a strong link between people neglecting their oral hygiene and developing one of these conditions. 

Why Maintain Good Oral Hygiene?

Although conclusive evidence from many studies eliminating all outside factors is still lacking, the strong link shown in the studies undertaken so far should be evidence enough that maintaining good dental hygiene is imperative for our overall health. Plus, even if the link between poor oral hygiene and cancer is still tenuous in terms of the scientific process, there is a clear and direct link between neglecting your dental hygiene and tooth infections that can easily spread through the blood vessels as well as cause teeth to fall out or need to be removed. 

If you don’t clean your teeth properly, the bacteria, sugars and acids in your food will cause cavities to form, which will make your teeth turn brown or black as they rot and fall out or need to be removed. Anyone who has had a toothache will know how devastating the pain can be, greatly affecting your quality of life, and those who have had teeth removed will also know the importance of having a full set of teeth when eating and drinking.

What Are the Symptoms of Poor Oral Hygiene?

Poor oral hygiene can have many different appearances depending on the severity. People who don’t satisfactorily look after their teeth may have:

  • Bad breath
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Brown or black teeth
  • Missing teeth

Of course, some factors that affect our dental health are largely outside our control such as genetics causing thin tooth enamel, and injury causing teeth to be damaged or come loose. However, it remains important to protect our teeth and keep our real teeth for as long as possible. 

How to Improve Your Dental Hygiene

You may already brush your teeth twice a day and wonder why you still have cavities, stained teeth or bad breath, but there is more to dental hygiene than simply brushing. 

Firstly, looking after your teeth starts with what you put in your mouth. Eating a healthy balanced diet, with few sugars, especially through drinks, is the best way to protect your teeth from harm. If you do drink sugary drinks from time to time, you can protect your teeth further by drinking through a straw so the liquid doesn’t coat your teeth. 

Furthermore, you should brush your teeth first thing in the morning to remove the bacteria from your mouth before you eat, so they can’t feed on the sugars from your breakfast cereal, pastry or juice. Coffee is also very acidic and can cause harm to your teeth, so it’s best to drink your coffee after brushing your teeth in the morning to protect them from the acids. You should also floss and use mouthwash after brushing your teeth to further remove any leftover bacteria or sugars in your mouth and keep it fresh and clean.

The next most important thing for maintaining good dental health is regularly visiting a dental hygienist.

Why See a Dental Hygienist?

Dental hygienists aren’t there to berate you about the quality of your teeth, but rather to help you keep them clean and advise you on how best to look after your teeth. In a dental hygiene appointment, your dental hygienist will have a look at the health of your teeth, remove any plaque that has built up and tell you any relevant information for you to keep your teeth healthy. 

For some people, especially if you have wisdom teeth, teeth can become cramped and overlap which makes it harder to reach in the gaps to clean them with a toothbrush or dental floss. Although you should still try to keep them as clean as possible, your dental hygienist can remove plaque that has built up as well as advise if you should see a dentist to have a tooth removed to give your teeth more space or get braces to straighten them. Straight teeth aren’t just for the perfect smile; they’re easier to clean so they can stay healthy. 

As dental hygienists are there to help you keep your teeth clean, you should see them more regularly than your dentist. If you keep your teeth clean and have healthy teeth generally, you should visit the dental hygienist once every six months, but if you have dental problems or naturally thin enamel, you should visit a dental hygienist for a checkup once every three months. 

There are dental hygienists available to see on the NHS, costing the same for all band 1 treatment, however, as NHS services are usually very busy, it can be hard to get an appointment, especially outside of your working hours. However, as with all medical treatment in the UK, the care you receive should be the same under both NHS and private dentists. 

Book Your Dental Hygiene Appointment Today!

Ready to make an appointment with a dental hygienist in Manchester? Book your appointment with Didsbury Dental Practice today. 

With appointments available from 9 am to midnight every day, we’re sure to be available at a time that best suits you. What’s more, we have emergency appointments available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help you look after your teeth. 

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