According to the latest global oral health assessment findings, only 45% of the Indian population brush their teeth twice a day. Compared to 78-83 percent in other countries like China, Colombia, Italy, and Japan, the number in India was significantly lower. The study, conducted by the Geneva-based Oral Health Observatory in 12 countries and published in the International Dental Journal, also found that Indians had the sweetest tooth, reporting the highest sugary food consumption frequency at 32 percent.
Amid such alarming data, we spoke to Dr Vinisha Pandey, a root canal specialist and Founder-Owner of Dr. Vinisha Pandey Dentistry, to not only understand the downsides of not brushing regularly, but also how brushing twice a day can benefit your oral and overall health.
The Link Between Oral Health And Overall Health
We all know that our mouth is one of the primary entry points for germs, bacteria, and viruses, which can then easily travel to the digestive as well as the respiratory tracts. Ideally, the immune system and healthy oral habits help prevent the microorganisms from thriving and keep infections and illnesses at bay. That said, while oral health refers to the health of the teeth, gums, and other aspects of the mouth and the face, it is also linked to chronic diseases.
Study has suggested that oral cavity or a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) is often linked to a chronic disease and vice versa. Certain illnesses like diabetes and HIV/AIDs are said to reduce the body's resistance to infection, increasing the risk of severe oral health problems.
Expanding on the subject, Dr Pandey says, “Poor oral health might also contribute to various systemic conditions and diseases like heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, etc.”
According to her, plaque buildup and loss of teeth are just the beginning for poor oral health. You can also experience mouth sores, ulcers, gum disease known as gingivitis and bad breath.
Should You Brush Twice Daily?
“Yes!” says Dr Pandey. “It is important to brush your teeth twice a day for 1-2 minutes using a soft bristled brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.”
The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends cleaning between the teeth once a day either with a dental floss or another interdental cleaner like floss picks or a water flosser. This in turn helps remove plaque and foods that get stuck between the teeth. Not doing so can cause the bacteria to settle and thrive on the teeth and gums, leading to cavities and other dental issues.
Dr Pandey says regular and daily brushing of teeth is important to prevent plaque buildup, gum disease and to combat bad breath.
Ways To Maintain Oral Health
Apart from brushing twice a day, here are some of the other dental care habits you should adopt:
- Practice flossing daily; do not use a toothpick as an aid for removing food stuck between the teeth
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash at least once a day
- Replace your toothbrush every 2 months after the bristles have spayed or worn off
- Avoid tobacco consumption
- Eat more fruits and vegetables to maintain a good flow of saliva in the mouth
- Schedule your regular dental visits and checkups
- Take multivitamin supplements prescribed by your dentist, if needed
Your dental or oral health may not seem as important as your heart, lungs, liver, brain or kidney health, but it is as important to maintain your overall health. A dental condition or an oral health problem can impact other aspects of your health, as mentioned above. That said, do not be complacent in how you handle your teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day is where you should start.