Registered Dental Hygienist & Director, Sunstar Americas Inc.
Did you know that your oral health is linked to your overall health Managing oral hygiene is key and here’s how you can integrate it into your everyday self-care routine.
Some of our earliest childhood memories involve brushing our teeth. As life becomes more demanding, the brushing routine we developed as children can become mundane. Many adults simply go through the motions of maintaining what they consider a perfectly acceptable oral hygiene routine.
On the other hand, a self-care routine can be defined as near therapeutic. It’s an everyday ritual we not only stick to but look forward to. When you think of self-care, chances are you don’t necessarily think of your oral hygiene, but the reality is that the mouth is an important gateway to overall health. There are considerable benefits to reframing how we see oral hygiene, not as a chore but as an integral —and enjoyable — part of our everyday self-care routine.
When you think of self-care, chances are you don’t necessarily think of your oral hygiene, but the reality is that the mouth is an important gateway to overall health.
It’s all routine
“We need to start thinking of our oral health like we do the rest of our health,” says Francine Gagnon, a registered dental hygienist and Director at Sunstar Americas Inc., makers of GUM® brand products, a leader in oral care solutions. “Oral hygiene should be an important part of our self-care routine each day.”
Research and studies have shown a clear connection between our oral health and general health, with overwhelming evidence suggesting links between plaque accumulation in the mouth and diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and even pneumonia. In fact, research continues to demonstrate that bacteria in the oral cavity travels through the body by means of our bloodstream, aggravating existing inflammation in the rest of the body.(1,2)
Understanding the science
To understand the importance of an oral hygiene routine, you’ve got to understand the risk of plaque accumulation. Gagnon explains that the mouth is home to many types of bacteria, some good and some bad. As bacteria in the mouth grows, plaque settles on the teeth, gums, and tongue — but particularly spaces in between the teeth and other hard-to-reach surfaces. If not removed daily, plaque hardens and will develop into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional.
This is where it gets interesting: the bacteria in plaque convert sugars into acids, which can result in tooth decay and produce toxins that cause gum inflammation. As plaque tends to form around the gum line, these toxins can easily access that sensitive tissue, resulting in red, swollen gums and, if untreated, can lead to gum disease, which has been shown to exacerbate serious health problems like diabetes, pregnancy complications, and heart disease.(1)
Your journey to a healthier you
Our mouths are the entryway to the rest of our bodies! Integrating oral hygiene into your self-care routine doesn’t need to be a hassle or even take much time. It comes down to finding tools that not only make it easy to incorporate oral hygiene into your daily routine but are the right fit for your mouth.
Just like it takes time to find a skincare product that works best for your skin, finding oral care products that work with your unique teeth and gums can make all the difference. In fact, brands like GUM® have developed products that aren’t just customized to varying oral care needs, but are designed with our general health in mind. Oral health goes so much further than pearly whites — it’s about empowerment. As research clearly shows, the more we take care of our smile, the better we feel physically.
Perfecting A Gum Care Routine:
Most dental professionals recommend placing bristles at a 45º angle to your gumline and gently moving the brush back and forth with very short strokes(4). If you’re having trouble with this, find a toothbrush — like the GUM® Technique® Toothbrush — that’s specially designed to help guide your hand into the right position and angle the bristles to properly tackle plaque. 2x a day, for 2 minutes, at a 45º angle.
Clean between, where a brush can’t reach.
Flossing doesn’t have to be boring with new GUM® Dual-Defence™ Twisted String Floss. Minty flavoured floss covers 30% more tooth surface(5) and removes 2x more plaque vs. the leading brand(6). When it comes to flossing, it’s about being effective, efficient, and keeping it simple.
Floss like a pro: Grab 35-40 cm of floss and wrap it around each middle finger. Keep a short section taught between your thumbs and index fingers. Gently slide the floss up and down each tooth and don’t forget to floss just under the gumline.
If string floss isn’t for you, there are other easy-to-use options such as flossers or interdental picks and brushes. No matter the tool you use, it’s important to remove plaque between your teeth at least 1x per day.
Use a fluoride-based mouth rinse.
Regular use of a fluoride-based mouth wash has been proven to reduce the incidence of cavities(7). Ask your dental professional about which mouth rinse is best for you.
Visit your dental professional.
Your dental professional has the tools to reach surfaces you can’t see and can monitor for signs of dental issues and gum disease that may impact the rest of your health.
Book a dental visit every 6 months, or as prescribed by your dental professional.
Your smile is the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning and integrating proper oral hygiene into your daily routine is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, physically and mentally. By keeping your mouth free of inflammation, you’ll quite literally feel — and taste — the difference.
- Institute of Medicine (US) Board on Health Care Services. The U.S. Oral Health Workforce in the Coming Decade: Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2009. 2, The Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health and Well-Being. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK219661/)
- Li X, Kolltveit KM, Tronstad L, Olsen I. Systemic diseases caused by oral infection. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2000 Oct;13(4):547-58. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88948/)
- Loesche WJ. Microbiology of Dental Decay and Periodontal Disease. In: Baron S, editor. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996. Chapter 99. ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8259/ )
- Wilkins, E., 2013. Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist. 11th ed. Philadelphia: Aptara Inc., p.394.
- Data on File (DOF-0039)
- Data on File (DOF-0030)
- Asl Aminabadi N, Balaei E, Pouralibaba F. The Effect of 0.2% Sodium Fluoride Mouthwash in Prevention of Dental Caries According to the DMFT Index. J Dent Res Dent Clin Dent Prospects. 2007 Summer;1(2):71-6. ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3525928/#R05 )