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Simple ways to help mothers improve oral health and avoid chronic diseases

Simple ways to help mothers improve oral health and avoid chronic diseases

Mothers are often the cornerstone of their families, providing care, support, and love. However, due to age and pressures of life, many mothers are at risk of chronic diseases. These conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, can significantly impact their health, happiness and ability to fulfil their multitude of roles. Fortunately, many can be prevented or managed through healthy lifestyle choices, regular medical check-ups, and early intervention.

Maintaining good oral health is essential for overall health, as poor oral hygiene can be a contributing factor in the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and respiratory infections. In this blog, we will explore the role of oral health in overall health, and provide simple tips to help mothers improve their oral health to reduce their likelihood of suffering from chronic diseases.

Common chronic diseases and oral health

Oral health as a contributing factor to the development of chronic diseases is an ongoing area of study which we keenly follow. Our steadfast goal in educating our patients about this serious matter is ensuring their life-long health and quality of life. When our patients get into their motherhood years, they may be at greater risk of some of these common chronic diseases which can have a relationship with oral health.

  • Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot regulate blood sugar levels, leading to health problems. The immune response associated with gum disease can consume so much of the body’s endocrine supply that there is not enough remaining for insulin production, which is used in blood sugar regulation.
  • Heart disease is a group of conditions that affect the heart, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, and heart failure. The link between oral health and heart disease is multifactorial, with a one factor being that oral pathogens can enter the bloodstream through gum infection. Once in the blood, bacteria and viruses travel throughout the cardiovascular system and may trigger the release of large white blood cells. These large white blood cells can become lodged in small blood vessels, especially in the heart. Other components of blood, including cholesterol, then join the traffic jam which forms atherosclerotic plaque. This blocks the supply of oxygen and nutrients and, in the case of the heart, can lead to heart disease.
  • Cancer is a disease where abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, often leading to tumours and other health problems. Dental infections can contribute to this condition by releasing bacterial toxins which can damage DNA and through triggering an immune response that causes systemic inflammation. Both of these can promote the growth of cancer cells.
  • Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can significantly impact a mother’s quality of life. These may be partially attributed to brain inflammation, chronic pain, lack of sleep and degraded self-confidence resulting from poor oral health. Since the brain inflammation factor is rarely considered, it is worth explaining. Inflammation of the brain can be caused by the inflammatory response that chronic gum disease can trigger throughout the body. Long-term brain inflammation can negatively impact mental health.

Good oral health is a critical aspect of overall health, as it can reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Neglecting oral health can strain our immune systems, adversely affecting our overall health. Mothers often put the needs of others before themselves, which increases their risk of developing poor oral health that can lead to feelings of fatigue, illness, and an increased risk of chronic diseases.Therefore, we need to recognise the need for mothers to prioritise oral health to ensure their overall health, happiness, and well-being.

Common chronic dental diseases

Keeping in mind the impact of poor oral health on chronic disease, we need to also consider common chronic oral health problems. These can be mitigated by good oral hygiene and lifestyle choices, which in turn may reduce the incidence of other chronic diseases.

  • Tooth decay is a condition where the outer layer of the tooth, called enamel, is damaged by acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. This can cause pain, sensitivity, and infection if left untreated. It can also become a factor contributing to chronic diseases.
  • Gum disease is a condition where bacteria builds up in the gums, leading to inflammation, swelling, and bleeding. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems if left untreated.
  • Oral cancer is a type of cancer that can occur in any part of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. If left untreated, oral cancer can lead to serious health problems, including difficulty speaking, swallowing, or breathing.

Risk factors for chronic dental diseases

  • Poor dental hygiene can include inadequate brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria in the mouth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Unhealthy diets are typically high in sugar and processed foods. These can contribute to tooth decay, as the sugar fuels bacteria in the mouth to produce acid that erodes tooth enamel.
  • Vaping or smoking can delay healing after dental procedures and increase the risk of gum disease and oral cancer.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption can dry out the mouth, reducing saliva flow and increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Certain medical conditions, as well as certain health conditions such as diabetes, can affect dental health by reducing the body’s ability to fight infection and heal properly.

How can mothers prevent chronic diseases?

Preventing chronic diseases, especially when you are a mother, requires a multi-faceted approach. It includes healthy lifestyle habits, regular health screenings and check-ups, stress management and mental health support. Here are some methods that can help prevent chronic diseases:

Healthy lifestyle habits

A balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are crucial for preventing chronic diseases. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help maintain a healthy weight, regulate blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Regular health screenings and check-ups

Regular health screenings and check-ups can help detect and manage chronic diseases early. Women should schedule regular appointments with their healthcare provider, which may include oral exams, blood pressure checks, blood glucose tests, cholesterol tests, and mammograms.

Regular dental check-ups can help identify and treat early signs of dental issues, such as gum disease and tooth decay, before they become chronic. Your dentist can also advise on maintaining good dental hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing. Your dentist may recommend preventive measures, such as fluoride treatments, dental sealants or night guards if necessary.

Stress management and mental health support

Chronic stress can contribute to developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, depression, and anxiety. Stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help reduce stress levels. Seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional can also be beneficial for managing stress and maintaining mental health.

Healthy mouths and happy mothers

At Leeming Dental, we want to empower mothers in their journey towards optimal health. When mothers improve their health and reduce their risk of chronic diseases, they may find it easier to fulfil their multiple roles with vitality and happiness. This is hard to do alone, so it is essential that they and those around them prioritise the simple steps needed to improve oral health. Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene, making healthy lifestyle choices, and seeking regular medical and dental check-ups are key to maintaining great health and preventing chronic diseases.

Asthma and oral health

Asthma and oral health

The link between asthma and your oral health

Do you have asthma or know someone who does? If so, then it’s important that you are aware of the connection between asthma and oral health. Recent studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between poor oral hygiene and an increased risk of asthma attacks. Poor dental care can lead to inflammation in the airways which can trigger an attack. On top of this, research has found that people with severe forms of asthma tend to suffer from more cavities than those without asthma.

Poor oral hygiene heightens asthma attacks

Poor oral hygiene can lead to inflammation in the airways which can trigger an attack. When bacteria and plaque start to accumulate on the teeth, gums, and tongue they can release toxins into the bloodstream that can cause inflammation of the airways. This inflammation makes it more difficult for people with asthma to breathe.

Asthma increases the risk of dry mouth

A dry mouth is a condition in which your body does not produce enough saliva. Asthma can cause an individual to take shallow breaths which results in a decreased production of saliva. Saliva helps to fight against dental plaque, bacteria, and acidity levels in the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth is more exposed to oral health issues such as cavities and gum disease.

In addition to this, people with asthma may be more likely to have an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the mouth. This can cause a higher risk of bad breath, cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues.

Effects of asthma medications on your oral health

  • Gingivitis: Asthma medications can often cause gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding your teeth. This condition may make your gums more prone to infection and bleeding after brushing or flossing.
  • Cavities: Certain asthma medications can increase the risk of cavities due to decreased saliva production.
  • Mouth sores: Some people who take asthma medication may experience mouth sores. These can range in size and severity, but they are usually painful and can make it difficult to eat or drink.
  • Tooth decay: Long-term use of certain asthma medications can cause tooth decay, as they may reduce the number of minerals in your teeth.
  • Dental erosion: Asthma medications can contribute to changes in your teeth and bone structure. For example, long-term use of steroids may cause changes in the shape of your jawbone or make your teeth more prone to erosion.

Asthma and Dental Anxiety

Don’t let your fear of an Asthma attack stop you from seeing the dentist, or at worst, never at all. If you feel nervous or have dental anxiety, don’t worry. Be open and honest with the dentist to create a treatment plan that addresses your concerns for a comfortable and stress-free appointment. Modern dental clinics have a variety of options for patients to assist with dental anxiety these days.

Protect your oral health

The best way to protect your oral health is to practice good oral hygiene habits. Brush twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist every 6 months. This will help reduce the risk of developing cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues.

In addition, talking to your doctor about your asthma and its effects on your oral health is an important step in making sure that you are properly managing both conditions. Your doctor may be able to provide advice or prescribe medications to help reduce the risk of developing oral health issues related to asthma. By understanding the connection between asthma and oral health, you can take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from potential complications.

How does the oral mucosa protect you from viruses and bacteria?

How does the oral mucosa protect you from viruses and bacteria?

What is the mucous membrane?

The mucous membrane is a moist mucosal layer that lines cavities within the body. In fact, the mucous membrane extends throughout the body and protects all internal surfaces that are exposed to air, microbes and foreign matter (i.e. dust, food & beverages). These areas include the respiratory, digestive and reproductive tracts.

This viscous lining is kept permanently moist by goblet cells that store and secrete mucins. These mucins form the protective mucous layer known as the mucous membrane.

What is the oral mucosa?

The oral mucosa, also called the oral mucous membrane, is the mucous membrane that lines the oral cavity specifically. This includes the mouth, tongue, inner cheeks, nasal passages and pharynx.

The essential ‘barrier’ immunity function of the oral mucosa

The oral mucosa has a number of protective functions. For example, it protects soft tissues from the mechanical forces of contraction, expansion and shearing when you talk, chew and swallow. It also contains receptors with sensory functions (e.g. the tongue mucosa contains taste buds).

However, the most essential protective function of the oral mucosa is that it acts as your body’s first line of immune defence against oral pathogens and viruses.

Your oral mucosal immune system functions as a barrier or ‘wall’ that separates oral bacteria and viruses from underlying soft tissue (or the serous membrane) thereby preventing infection, bacterial pathogenesis and disease.

Keep your oral mucosa moist through adequate hydration

If you’re thirsty and your lips are dry, there’s a good chance your oral mucosa is too. Keep your oral mucosa moist by drinking adequate amounts of water to maintain hydration.

Best cleaning tools to remove plaque in infants & toddlers (3 months-3 years)

Best cleaning tools to remove plaque in infants & toddlers (3 months-3 years)

You might think that removing plaque happens automatically with brushing their teeth. But not all parents clean their child’s teeth and gums in equal measure. Some opt for a quick light brush and miss the hidden plaque behind teeth. Other more scrupulous parents ensure that 100% of tooth and gum surfaces are thoroughly cleaned with the right cleaning tools – and inspected for missed plaque with a dental mirror! Not surprisingly, it’s the latter group that that has the right attitude towards brushing their child’s teeth – it’s all about removing bacterial plaque every time, wherever it may be in the mouth.

Oral cleaning tools for infant teeth and gums 3-12 months old

Starting oral care for your infant can begin well before their first teeth appear. When your child turns 3 months old, you can gently wipe their gum surfaces with a clean, moist pad, finger gauze or cotton-gauze baby oral cleaner swabs – in the mornings and evenings. Gum care, especially along the gum line where primary teeth are emerging, keeps gums clean and healthy. Check other oral surfaces behind the lips, between the inner cheeks and gums. You’d be surprised by what you can find. Infant tongues need cleaning too with a baby tongue cleaner. Give them a quick sip of some water to wash away dislodged plaque and food residue still remaining in the mouth after you’ve completed cleaning. Drinking lots of water during the day keeps their mouths clean too.

When the first teeth pop up, start using a soft, infant toothbrush or silicone finger toothbrush with water to clean them. You can purchase a wide range of age-specific infant teeth & gum cleaning products from your supermarket or chemist. If your child resists a toothbrush at first, make a slower transition and continue using the moist pad or gauze technique to wipe clean 100% of the surfaces of each individual tooth. Don’t miss their gum line and make it fun with song and games. Your child will look forward to brushing their daily oral care and hygiene routine.

Oral cleaning tools for toddlers teeth and gums 1-3 years old

Toddlers need to have their teeth cleaned twice daily – morning and night – just like everyone else. And they will need your help and supervision while they’re doing it. They’ll be using a toothbrush with water until they reach 18 months after which they brush with a small dab of low-fluoride toothpaste. Focus on cleaning each tooth with 360 degree coverage of tooth surfaces. Young toddlers probably won’t spit or rinse when told, so gently wipe away excess toothpaste residue, but leave a thin smear on teeth for its fluoride benefits. By about the age of 2, your toddler should be able to hold the brush while you their hand and guide it in all the right brushing angles and motions.

Stand in front of the bathroom mirror so you can both see into their mouth. You can try cupping their chin for better stability. In effect, you are being a puppeteer and controlling their movements while they get to hold the toothbrush. Angle bristles appropriately to remove plaque from the front, back and between the teeth. To remove plaque build-up from the gum line, angle bristles towards this area and brush in an expanding circular motion to incrementally “shave” off plaque. Make sure you ease the toothbrush off a little when it comes in contact with gum tissue, so as not to cause irritation. Let them hold the tongue cleaner while you guide their hand movements and start teaching them to spit.

New dental technology can benefit toddlers once they’ve got the hang of manual brushing. Infant electric toothbrushes with timers are very effective cleaning tools but a toddler has to unlearn their manual brushing technique to use them. Electric toothbrush are held in a stationary position and moved across each tooth – tooth by tooth. Always store their toothbrush away from other brushes and allow to air dry. Cross bacterial contamination with older family member’s toothbrushes can introduce new bacterial species into your child’s oral cavity. Replace brush or brush heads every 3-4 months.

Buying my child’s first toothbrush – toothbrushes for infants & toddlers

Buying my child’s first toothbrush – toothbrushes for infants & toddlers

You’re a parent and your young toddler has just got their first tiny front teeth. So, it’s time to start cleaning them after ‘feed’ time. But do you use your finger or a damp cloth? Or head off to the supermarket to buy them a toothbrush?

Toothbrushes are the most effective cleaning tool for infants & toddlers

Most dentists recommend toothbrushes as the most effective cleaning tool for your child’s first teeth. Some oral health experts say that using a soft, moist cloth is a better option. So the choice is up to you and may depend on how your child responds to this daily activity. However, keep in mind that bristles are the most effective, quickest way to gently scrub off sticky plaque. You should note brand labelling to select the correct type of toothbrush for your child’s age group. The key point to remember when buying a toothbrush for your young child is that it has to have a small brush head with a soft, rounded end, a small easy-grip handle and soft bristles. You don’t want to irritate your young child’s sensitive gums!

When should you start brushing your infant child’s teeth?

Dentists advise parents to start brushing with water as soon as their first teeth appear. That’s because dental plaque can start forming on tiny tooth surfaces as soon as they erupt out of the gums into the oral cavity. And long term plaque can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Continue to brush your infant’s teeth twice daily until they have enough dexterity to brush, rinse and spit without supervision.

Protect your child’s oral health now for the future

For most children, untreated plaque, tooth decay and cavities are oral conditions that are entirely preventable. However, due to a modern diet with instantly addictive sugary foods, tooth decay and cavities are highly prevalent among children in the 2020s. Inadequate oral care is also an issue. In Australian children aged 3 years and under, 14% didn’t brush, 44% brushed once daily and 42% brushed twice daily (as recommended). That means well over half (58%) of Aussie infants and toddlers are not keeping their teeth clean enough to prevent plaque, decay and cavities. These negative statistics highlight the need for parents to be actively and consistently involved in their child’s oral care and hygiene from the earliest age. This way, good oral habits are formed and maintained throughout their childhood, teen years and into their adult life – for healthy teeth and a healthier life.

The best ways to improve your probiotic oral bacteria

The best ways to improve your probiotic oral bacteria

Probiotic Oral Bacteria

Probiotic Oral Bacteria

The best ways to improve your probiotic oral bacteria

Nurturing and enhancing the probiotic bacterial activity in your oral cavity is done similarly as for your gut

When eating high-fibre vegetables, you can nourish your good oral bacteria along with your friendly gut bacteria, further down the track. However, there are slight differences between the needs of your probiotic oral bacteria compared to those of your gut bacteria. Additionally, your oral cavity is a unique microbial environment that is physiologically different from your gut. Improving its blood vessels & nerves, salivary glands, chemical signalling function to the brain and cellular efficiency can enhance oral probiotic flora and lower levels of oral pathogens.

The oral and gut microbiota work together to keep us healthy

Even though the oral and gut microbiotas appear to be separate entities, they work synergistically to nourish our body and protect it from infection and disease. So it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t effectively improve one microbiota without improving the other as well. For example, you might take a daily gut probiotic supplement – but what about the billions of oral pathogens you swallow every day that makes it through the stomach acid barrier and colonise the gut? So, what are the most beneficial ways to boost your probiotic oral bacteria?

Tips to improve your probiotic oral bacteria

You can nurture your probiotic oral bacteria, optimise your oral PH and improve your oral health with the following foods and oral care/lifestyle habits:

  • Eat, chew or drink (with pulp) nitrate-rich high fibre vegetables to maintain and improve the oral microbiome including celery, beetroot, rocket, chard, rhubarb, fennel and oak leaf lettuce.
  • Eat, chew or drink (with pulp) prebiotic high fibre foods that help feed probiotic oral bacteria, including nuts, fruits and seeds.
  • Chew more fibre to create an “oral garden mulch” to feed probiotic bacteria.
  • Use your toothbrush, flosser and tongue scraper to manually remove bacterial plaque – helps keep bacterial numbers between species balanced and in check.
  • Avoid excessive use of anti-microbial mouthwashes since they can harm the oral microbiome, taking out good and bad bacteria. Use mouthwashes with prebiotics that target specific bacteria.
  • Avoid alcohol. Binge drinking can completely disrupt the diversity of your oral microbiome and enable harmful bacteria to flourish.
  • Avoid smoking. It can disrupt saliva flow and dry out the oral cavity.

  • Oral bacteria