“Is your mouth healthy?” This is a question that everyone really has to ask themselves. After all, oral health can affect your overall health. While the mouth is home to a lot of bacteria that are mostly harmless, it is also the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts; and some of these bacteria can cause diseases.
Good oral health care, such as regular brushing and flossing, along with the body’s natural defenses keep these bacteria under control. However, without good oral hygiene, these bacteria can lead to oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease.
6 Signs of a Healthy Mouth
Pale Pink and Firm Gums
Healthy gums are pale pink and firm. They are not white, red, and puffy nor do they bleed when you brush or floss. They are not tender or sore, either. There is also a triangular portion of gum tissue that should extend between two teeth that ends in a point and has a free space where your floss can slide for cleaning. If it’s not healthy, this triangular shape becomes more blunt and the space becomes deep, forming a pocket into which more bacteria, plaque and tartar can accumulate. Your dentist should let you know if any gum disease is about to arise.
No Bad Breath
A healthy mouth does not have persistent or significant bad breath (halitosis). Most of the time, bad breath is caused by an accumulation of bacteria and their odors and sulphur smelling gases. It is also one of the first signs of gingivitis that can lead to gum disease, worsening mouth odor, the loss of teeth, and other complications for the body. If you can’t taste or smell your breath yourself, then you can smell your floss after use or scrape some plaque off your teeth or tongue to smell it. Alternatively, you can ask someone to smell your breath and give an honest answer. Your dentist can usually help you get to the underlying cause if good oral hygiene does not solve the problem.
A Pink Tongue Covered with Papillae
A healthy tongue is pink and covered with tiny nodules we call papillae that help you perceive taste. The overall surface should be flat, smooth and clean-looking. The surface papillae can and do harbor bacteria that, if left to accumulate, can grow to unhealthy levels that will look like a white layer. Keep your tongue clean with a tongue scraper as part of your regular oral hygiene.
Healthy teeth should be cavity-free and absent of any erosion, staining, chips or cracks, disease, failing dental work, looseness, missing teeth, crookedness, sensitivity, etc. You might not be able to detect some of these yourself, which is why you need to have regular checkups with your dentist.
In a healthy mouth, upper and lower teeth fit together in an even manner, so that the forces of chewing are equally distributed and shared amongst all teeth throughout the jaw. Uneven bites, open spaces or teeth that are crooked, crowded, displaced or missing can hinder the performance, appearance and health of the teeth. Misaligned and crowded teeth can make teeth more difficult to clean and keep healthy and can cause jaw problems leading to clenching, grinding and TMJ disorder.
A Pain-Free Mouth
A healthy mouth is not painful, dry or sensitive. How can you protect your oral Health? Practice good oral hygiene daily. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Floss daily. Use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing. Eat a healthy diet and limit food with added sugars. Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings. Avoid tobacco use. Contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises. Taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health especially if it’s in an early stage.
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