5.4.2 The Importance of Oral Health

According to the Mayo Clinic (2019), oral health offers clues about your overall health, and problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body. Since the mouth is the entry point to both the respiratory and the digestive body systems, harmful bacteria in the mouth can spread throughout the body and cause infection and other issues. Bacteria in the mouth can also lead to problems in the mouth itself, including tooth decay and gum disease. Furthermore, emerging medical research indicates that there is a relationship between oral health and the prevalence or severity of certain diseases, like endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy and birth complications, and pneumonia (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

Good oral health care, such as daily or twice-daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria in the mouth under control. Oral care and brushing surfaces in the mouth are also important to remove biofilms. According to Donlan (2002), a biofilm is an assemblage of microbial cells that is irreversibly associated (not removed by gentle rinsing) with a surface and enclosed in a matrix of primarily polysaccharide material. Biofilms were first detected on teeth, and may contribute to some infections. This makes an even stronger case for frequent oral care for better health.

Quality of life is also an important consideration here, as poor oral hygiene, over time, can lead to painful conditions like gingivitis, periodontitis, tooth sensitivity and toothache. Clients with sustained dental issues can end up losing their teeth and requiring serious dental surgery or dentures, which can be prohibitively expensive for many.

Did You Know?

When discussing oral care, it’s important to remember that, in addition to receiving daily oral cares, clients should see the dentist for regular cleanings, and whenever they complain of pain or discomfort in the mouth. Consult your facility policies for information on how dental appointments are managed.

A male patient wears sunglasses to protect his eyes while a hygienist works on his mouth.
Regular dental visits are important for the maintenance of oral health.

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