Most people tend to think about their teeth mostly in aesthetic terms - are they straight enough and white enough? Do they need the help of braces? But oral health is about so much more than just looking pretty.
The somewhat surprising truth is that oral health is one of the key indicators of your overall health. The connection between your teeth and gum health and your overall health is a twofold one: poor oral health can be both a cause and a sign of many other health issues.
Oral Health Issues and Other Health Issues
There is a clear connection between oral health and other health issues.
The connection between periodontal disease and diabetes is particularly strong. These two conditions can sometimes form a vicious circle which is hard to break.
Periodontal disease, from its first phase - gingivitis - causes inflammation in the gum tissue. Like other types of inflammation, this exacerbates diabetes by negatively impacting glycaemic control.
On the other hand, diabetes causes sugar levels to rise not only in blood, but also in saliva. This is fertile ground for oral bacteria and can cause or worsen periodontal disease, causing gum recession, tooth sensitivity, cavities and bad breath, even despite proper oral hygiene. A combination of diabetes and gum recession or other periodontal issues also significantly increases the risk of kidney and heart disease.
Research shows that poor oral health and disease of the teeth and gums is associated with higher mortality rates in general, and also with higher percentages of cardio-vascular and respiratory disease.
Cancer therapy is another big risk factor for the emergence of oral health issues. This is because cancer treatments can cause changes in the salivary glands and other soft tissues in the mouth - such as the mouth lining. This negatively impacts oral flora, allowing the growth of bad bacteria. The consequences can range from oral wounds to tooth decay.
The Most Common Oral Health Problems
When you think about oral health problems, the first thing thing you think about is usually tooth decay and cavities. However, a healthy mouth doesn't just mean healthy teeth. It also means that the bones, nerves and soft tissue in your mouth is healthy.
The most common dental problems include cavities, tooth sensitivity and total tooth loss. The main culprits for dental problems are usually harmful bacteria found in the mouth, and dental trauma.
Periodontal disease - gum disease - is also very common. Gum disease can be caused by poor oral hygiene, but it can also have its roots in conditions such as diabetes or Crohn's disease. Periodontitis is inflammation of the gum tissue. If left untreated, it can result in tooth loss.
Other common oral health problems include bad breath, oral ulcers and even oral cancer.
Habits for Good Oral Health
Although genetics and aging can impact your teeth and gum health, there are still plenty of healthy habits you can adopt to prevent gum disease, cavities, tooth sensitivity and other oral complications.
A Good Oral Care Regimen
Proper oral care is the first step to good oral health. Make sure to brush regularly and properly. You should never go to bed without brushing your teeth and your tongue. The recommended minimum oral care is brushing with tooth paste twice a day for two minutes - in the morning and in the evening.
Drink plenty of water. This will wash away some of the bad flora in your mouth, which can help to prevent the early stages of tooth decay and improve gum health. Not to mention that in a lot of communities tap water is fluoridated. Fluoride in water strengthens the teeth and makes them less susceptible to decay.
Seeing your dentist regularly can help prevent a whole number of dental and gum problems. If possible, have a check-up every six months, or at least once a year. Regular cleaning, as well as timely cavity, orthodontic treatment and periodontal treatment are imperative for good oral health.
A Healthy Diet
Everyone knows that you should avoid sugary foods and drinks if you want healthy teeth. Calcium rich foods like dairy products improve bone density and strengthen teeth. Fiber rich foods like whole grains and vegetables naturally clean teeth.
Oral Light Therapy
Low level light therapy with both red and blue light has emerged recently as one of the most effective non-invasive treatments for a whole range of teeth, gum and mouth problems.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Light therapy or photobiomodulation uses LED light emitting diodes. Low level light therapy uses red and infrared light LEDs or blue LEDs. Both red and blue light therapy have their own advantages and therapeutic value.
Red light therapy uses light of near infrared or red light wavelengths to stimulate various beneficial processes in the body.
By supporting mitochondria, the part of the cell which is in charge of cellular breathing and energy production, red light therapy boosts tissue oxygenation, stimulates blood flow and boosts the immune system. It also stimulates the mitochondrial protein chains and regulates the numbers of reactive oxygen species. These processes reduce inflammation, promote wound healing and bring pain relief.
Can Red Light Therapy Help with Teeth and Gum Disease?
Over the years, there have been numerous studies about the effects of red light therapy on teeth and gums. Findings overwhelmingly show that red light treatment can play an important role in oral care. Here are some conditions and problems low level laser therapy can help with.
In vitro study research has long proven that red light therapy stimulates the immune system fighter cells - leukocytes and T-cells. Several studies have also shown that light therapy itself might have the potential to inactivate germs such as viruses and bacteria.
This is why photobiomodulation can be a good line of treatment for oral infections, especially those with a high recurrence rate, for instance cold sores or oral lichen planus. Red light therapy also speeds up the healing process, which is especially important when the condition is painful and a quick recovery is crucial.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
The first symptoms of periodontitis, and its first stage - gingivitis, include bad breath, bleeding gums and gum tissue inflammation. However, when left untreated, they can lead to orthodontic tooth movement and, ultimately loss of teeth.
Red light therapy is a reliable gum treatment because it immediately boosts blood circulation. This has a multifaceted effect: it brings more immune system cells to the gums, which combat any local infection; it also drains away excess fluid and reduces inflammation and swelling, leading to quick pain relief.
Irradiation with red light also suppresses the formation of dental plaque, which is one of the main causes of gingivitis and gum disease.
Receding gums can have a number of causes - overly aggressive brushing, genetics, gum disease or unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking.
When the tissue holding the teeth recedes, this can lead to tooth movement and tooth loss. In particularly serious cases, even jaw bone loss occurs. Sometimes this can make it difficult to replace the missing teeth with implants.
Red light treatments have shown incredible potential to stimulate bone regeneration both in practice and in scientific studies. This can speed up the process of healing, revert the process of jaw bone deterioration, and ease dental implant surgery.
Can LED Light Therapy Whiten Teeth?
Light therapy with both red light and blue light is beneficial for teeth whitening. Blue light is especially efficient as an agent that can accelerate and boost the effects of a teeth whitening gel or whitening strips.
However, teeth whitening products, even when aided by blue light therapy, can often lead to teeth sensitivity. Red light therapy is especially good for sensitive teeth. One randomized control trial investigated the levels of pain and sensitivity in patients after a whitening procedure. The patients were divided into three groups: one was treated with red light, the other with near infrared light, and the third was the placebo group. After 24 hours, the pain relief in both the red LED light therapy group and the near infrared group were measurably higher in comparison with the placebo group.
What Happens If You Use Red Light Therapy Every Day?
Red light therapy is not invasive and doesn't require any particular caution. It is generally extremely well tolerated and doesn't normally cause any side effects. It's safe and even encouraged to have LED red light therapy treatments every day.
While some people see momentary improvement after a single session, for most, red light therapy has a cumulative effect. This means that it takes a few days and even up to a few weeks of everyday use before you see the best results.
Can You Use Red Light Therapy at Home?
Red light therapy uses light emitting diodes to emit red and infrared light. These frequencies, especially the red visible light, don't normally cause sensitivities.
Red light devices from Infraredi's range are simple to use at home. With highly adjustable settings, they can be used at home for daily light therapy.
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