Brush your way to a healthy immune system

New Jersey Elder Care Topic: Oral Hygiene

We’ve all heard how to maintain a healthy immune system by eating nutritious food, keeping physically active, and washing our hands regularly. But have you thought about how you can help maintain a immune system by simply brushing your teeth? With over 500 species of bacteria living in the mouth, the importance of oral hygiene cannot be underestimated.

When teeth haven’t been brushed, bacterial levels can rise. These bacteria, located in the mouth and throat, have the capability of entering the lower respiratory tract, for example. Many times, the common cold is caused by viruses originating in the respiratory tract. By brushing your teeth, you’re helping to keep the cold from attacking. By not brushing, you take the risk of developing gum disease and bleeding gums, which could lead to a myriad of health issues, such as bacteria entering the blood stream.

It’s especially important for seniors to maintain good oral hygiene to keep such health issues at bay. As we age, problems such as tooth loss, gum disease, loss of taste, dry mouth, and root decay may arise. Unrelated medical issues such as arthritis may hinder a senior from brushing or flossing. Certain drugs and diseases can also interfere with overall dental health in seniors.

Tips to help maintain good oral hygiene:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice each day, for two minutes each time
  • Brush above the gum line to increase the flow of blood
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Properly cleanse dentures
  • Cut back on sugary food and drinks
  • Drink plenty of water; water helps wash away bacteria
  • Brush your tongue to help relieve bad breath and discoloration
  • Choose a toothpaste containing fluoride that will protect against multiple issues such as plaque, stains, cavities, and gingivitis
  • Rinse with antibacterial mouth rinses
  • Have regular dental checkups