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2023-10-05 National Dental Hygiene Month (Blog) By Isha Patel

National Dental Hygiene Month

Dental hygiene goes beyond bright smiles and fresh breath; it plays a crucial role in our overall well-being. In this blog, we will explore the oral microbiome and explore the connection between dental health and mercury toxicity.

The Oral Microbiome: A Hidden World

Our mouths are teeming with life, hosting a diverse ecosystem of microorganisms collectively known as the oral microbiome. This thriving community consists of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that inhabit our teeth, gums, tongue, and throat. While some of these microorganisms are beneficial, others can be harmful if they overgrow or become imbalanced.

The Balance of Power: A healthy oral microbiome is all about balance. Beneficial bacteria like Streptococcus salivarius helps prevent harmful bacteria from gaining a foothold in our mouths. When this balance is disrupted, it can lead to oral health problems such as cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

Dental Plaque: One of the most notorious villains in oral health is dental plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and can lead to tooth decay and gum disease if not properly managed. Regular brushing and flossing are essential for removing plaque and maintaining a balanced oral microbiome.

The Gut-Oral Connection: Research has shown that the health of our oral microbiome is intricately linked to our gut microbiome. An imbalance in one can affect the other, potentially leading to systemic health issues. This connection highlights the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene.

Mercury Toxicity and Dental Health

Mercury in Dentistry: Dental amalgam, commonly known as silver fillings, has been used for over a century to repair cavities. It contains approximately 50% mercury, along with other metals like silver, tin, and copper. While the safety of dental amalgam has been debated, concerns about mercury exposure persist.

Mercury Exposure: Over time, dental amalgam fillings can release small amounts of mercury vapour, which can be inhaled and absorbed into the body. Chronic exposure to mercury has been linked to various health problems, including neurological and autoimmune disorders.

Alternatives to Amalgam: In recent years, there has been a growing trend toward using alternative filling materials that do not contain mercury, such as composite resin or ceramic. These materials are considered safer and are aesthetically pleasing.

Taking Care of Your Oral Health

In honour of National Dental Hygiene Month, here are some essential tips for maintaining a healthy oral microbiome and reducing the risk of mercury toxicity:

Regular Dental Check-ups: Visit your dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings. They can monitor the condition of your dental fillings and provide guidance on oral hygiene.

Brush and Floss: Maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily to remove dental plaque. Opt for a water flosser if the string is difficult to use.

Consider Alternative Fillings: If you have concerns about mercury exposure, discuss alternative filling options with your dentist.

Diet Matters: Eat a diverse diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to support a healthy oral microbiome.

Limit Sugar: Minimise sugary and acidic food and drink consumption, as they can contribute to tooth decay.

National Dental Hygiene Month serves as a reminder of the importance of good oral health practices. Beyond the surface, our mouths host a complex ecosystem of microorganisms that can impact our overall well-being. Additionally, being aware of the potential risks associated with dental amalgam fillings and considering alternative options can help us make informed decisions about our dental health.

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