If you’re one of the 25% of adults who don’t brush twice a day, you’re going to want to sit down and read this. The Guardian recently chatted with Francesco D’Aiuto, a senior lecturer at the Eastman Dental Institute in London, about how brushing twice a day isn’t just good for a patient’s oral health, but the whole body, as well. It’s what he calls the “mouth-body connection.”
“The mouth is not disconnected from the rest of the body,” D’Aiuto explained. “People should not underestimate what the body senses when the mouth is neglected.”
Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria and sugars that forms on the teeth. If it’s not cleaned and removed daily, it can form tartar — that hard, yellow material between teeth that causes inflammation and bleeding. Tartar, left untreated, can lead to gum disease and eventually to major damage to the gums and jaw bone.
Although brushing can get rid of plaque, once a patient skips out too many times, the toothbrush won’t be enough to guard against gum disease. In fact, it might even make things worse.
“When you have gum disease, the gums are effectively ulcerated inside, so they’re not forming a tight seal,” Francis Hughes, one of the King’s College London’s professors of periodontology, told The Guardian. “Every time you eat or brush your teeth, it pushes bacteria into the body and triggers inflammation.”
As the bacteria gets pushed deeper into the body, the risk of some diseases increases. Studies have shown that proper dental hygiene is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, unhealthy pregnancy, Alzheimer’s, and even erectile dysfunction.
In order to prevent tartar buildup, make sure your brush has soft bristles, as rough toothbrushes can lead to abrasions. After breakfast, and dinner, you should brush for about two to three minutes. Flossing regularly helps, too, as does avoiding toothpastes with baking soda, which can wear down enamel and cause cavities.