Oral hygiene is defined as the practice of keeping one's mouth clean by regularly brushing teeth and flossing. An oral hygiene routine must be carried out regularly to prevent dental disease and bad breath. Oral hygiene also maintains the bacterial ecosystem in the mouth, also called the oral microbiome.
While not all oral bacteria are necessarily bad for you, people who take care of their teeth will tend to have fewer of them. People with excellent oral health could have as few as 32 000 microbes (roughly 1000 per tooth), while people with periodontal diseases or bad oral hygiene can have as many as 6 billion.
While the brain is well protected against invasion by the blood-brain barrier, the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier and the central nervous system’s immune response, oral bacteria have some novel ways of sneaking in. One way is to infect periodontal tissue and wait for a bleeding event to occur in your gums. Once in the bloodstream, they can head straight for the brain.
If bacteria can settle deep enough in the gum, they can travel along the nerve fibres that connect the teeth to the brain. Once they get there, they set up shop in areas related to memory function. Your immune system gets rid of them as soon as they start causing an inflammatory effect, but if this happens repeatedly the brain suffers permanent damage, and it could be causative of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
ORAL HYGIENE ROUTINE
Good oral hygiene is not complicated and is simply a matter of conscientiousness and routine. The mainstays are:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Brush your tongue as well.
- Flossing is as important as brushing.
- Limit your sugar intake.