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Healthy Teeth, Healthy Body

The connection between healthy teeth and gums and overall health is stronger than you might think.

“The mouth is a mirror to your health.” – Dr. Mark Sowell

Just because you brush your teeth twice a day and floss whenever you remember doesn’t mean your teeth and gums are in great shape. Getting by with the bare minimum when it comes to oral health doesn’t guarantee your teeth will last a lifetime, either. The connection between your oral health and your overall health is stronger than you may realize, and properly caring for your teeth and gums should be a crucial part of your daily healthcare regimen, says Dr. Mark Sowell, a cosmetic dentist in Plano with Smiles by Sowell. He devotes much time and attention during his patients’ dental visits to teaching them how to properly brush and floss—for the sake of their teeth and their health. This is something most people think they have been doing correctly since they were kids, which is why they are surprised to learn they have gum disease or need bone grafts as adults. Improper or infrequent brushing and flossing and overall poor oral health habits can contribute to the loss of your teeth’s enamel and bone and lead to gum disease. Here, Dr. Sowell offers a few need-to-know facts that can help you preserve and protect your teeth and gums, so they are healthy for years to come. Good oral hygiene can also contribute to your overall health, as there is a proven link between your mouth’s health and chronic disease.

Brush and floss at night.

The most important time to have a bacteria-free mouth is when you go to sleep. Your immune system decreases as night, so when bacteria forms from food left in the mouth, the damage to the gums begins. The bacteria release sulfur gases, which is why we wake up with dreaded morning breath. “If you are going to pick just one time to clean your teeth, then do it right before you go to bed,” Dr. Sowell says. “My recommendation, of course, is to brush and least twice a day, but nighttime is most critical. Ask your dentist about rinses you can use can eliminate or reduce the sulfur gases that will keep your mouth much fresher when used before bed. Most drugstore mouthwashes aren’t actually eliminating the gases. They’re made of alcohol, which doesn’t do much of anything beneficial other than temporarily mask odor.”

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Brushing 101.

Bacteria accumulates between the teeth and gum line, so when you clean your teeth, don’t neglect this area. “We are trained to clean cheek-side, for the most part,” Dr. Sowell says. “Through the years, people have heard hundreds of variations on how to clean their teeth, but if you focus on the area between the teeth and gums, you have the best chance of ridding your mouth of dangerous bacteria. I offer my patients a disclosing solution, which is a rinse they can use during a dental visit that absorbs into the bacteria, to show where they are missing when they brush.”

Don’t fear fluoride.

“There are some populations that are anti-fluoride because they have read there is a link between fluoride and cancer,” Dr. Sowell says. “If you are using topical fluoride, such as rinses, the amount you are getting systemically is virtually none, but it’s enough to be a protective measure that protects your teeth. Topical fluorides, such as the rinses, are not harmful because you do not swallow them.”

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Talk to your dentist about your mouth’s PH level.

“In terms of health, PH is really important,” Dr. Sowell says. “When the PH level in your mouth is too low, you can erode the enamel, or excess sugar can create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Bacteria grow at a higher rate in the mouth with a low, acidic PH, which can attack roots and surfaces. Anything that contributes to inflammation of the body will negatively impact your oral health. Supplements, such as omegas, that naturally decrease inflammation in the body will also decrease inflammation in your mouth. If you are a mouth-breather, you will likely have an acidic PH, even you have a healthy diet. The mouth isn’t designed for air to be coming across it so much. When this happens, the air dehydrates the tissues, causes inflammation, and changes the PH level. Ask your dentist about a quick, simple PH test that can be taken with litmus paper during your next visit as well as what you can do to balance the PH level in your mouth. You can also drink high PH water to raise your body’s PH level if needed.”

The mouth is a mirror to your health.

When I look into a patient’s mouth and everything is pink and healthy, I have a fairly good idea they are generally healthy,” Dr. Sowell says. “We are learning so much more about how all systems are connected. You can’t look inside the gut to see if someone is healthy without an operation, but you can look in the mouth and assess the tissues and get a general idea about one’s health. There are many signs and symptoms where we can connect the dots to create a probability. If you’re healthy and exercise, get plenty of sleep, and eat a healthy diet, your body will operate at a more optimal condition as you get older. This will also positively impact your oral health.”

For nearly three decades, Dr. Mark Sowell has served the community by providing state-of-the-art dental care. He is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of cosmetic dentistry, implant dentistry, and restorative dentistry. Because of his relentless commitment to excellence in all aspects of dental care, Dr. Sowell is often asked to lecture to other dentists and attends over 200 hours of rigorous postdoctoral training each year. Dr. Sowell is a member of an elite group of dentists who have achieved both Master status with the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and Accredited Membership with the prestigious American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Fewer than 40 dentists nationwide have earned both professional distinctions. While these recognitions illustrate Dr. Sowell’s dedication to providing the best that dentistry has to offer, he has achieved numerous other merits in the field of dentistry. To learn more about the extreme safety and sanitation measures Dr. Sowell has implemented into his state-of-the-art dental practice, visit smilesbysowell.com.

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