Why is Dental Hygiene so Important to your Overall Health

dental hygiene

Serving patients of Erwin, Jonesbodental hygienerough, and Greeneville TN

The word “hygiene” is used so often as another word for “cleanliness” that it can be understood if most people think it means “clean.” In fact, though, “hygiene” descends from the Greek word “hyges,” which means “health,” and literally means “things that preserve or bring about health or soundness”. Dental hygiene, then, does not just mean “clean teeth,” though obviously this is important. A more accurate definition is “the set of practices that maintain or restore dental health.”

Dental health is extraordinarily important. Why is this?

Consequences of unhealthy teeth: personal presentation

Unhealthy teeth are unsightly: since modern standards of beauty emphasize a smile with straight, white teeth, teeth that are not straight or white are considered less attractive. Teeth that are discolored, cracked, worn, or missing are therefore less appealing, which can affect a person’s attractiveness. This, in turn, can make a person feel self-conscious, less confident, and reluctant to smile. Since a smile often conveys a good mood and contentment, one that is withheld can make a person come across as unhappy, ill at ease, surly, or fearful. This can cause opinions to be formed which are hardly positive about the person, and this can lead to interactions that are uncomfortable and even harmful to one’s mental well-being.

Unhealthy teeth can affect more than a person’s appearance. People with poor dental health almost always have a high number of bacteria in the mouth, which can cause bad breath. This unpleasant condition can also affect the way people with unhealthy teeth are perceived. Teeth that are missing or badly cracked can also affect speech and alter words that are used. Finally, unhealthy teeth can make it difficult to eat certain foods. This can not only cause personal displeasure if the foods to be avoided are favorites, but it can have repercussions on work or personal relationships, since food is so often social.

Dental health is, therefore, very important in the way people present themselves, and unhealthy teeth can have several unpleasant personal and interpersonal consequences.


Unhealthy teeth – especially caused by decay or broken teeth – can often result in pain from eating or drinking, especially things that are hot, cold, sweet, or tough. Additionally, unhealthy teeth can often hurt even without such a cause.

Misaligned teeth – which often happens when a tooth is missing – can cause bruxism, or grinding. This can be painful on its own and can lead to tongue-thrusting, often triggering headaches. It has also been known to cause a condition called burning mouth syndrome, which makes the tongue feel like it has been scalded. Furthermore, teeth that are out of healthy alignment will frequently put extra stress on one or both temporomandibular joints (TMJ), which connect the lower jaw to the skull and allow the mouth to open and close. A distressed TMJ can make chewing, drinking, swallowing, speaking, singing, or even yawning intensely painful.

Overall health

Increased numbers of mouth bacteria is often not just the result of unhealthy teeth, but the cause of it. Bacteria can cause tooth enamel to thin, making teeth appear more yellow, and bacteria and the acid it produces causes cavities.

But studies have shown that excess oral bacteria can have other health ramifications. It can, for example, make pneumonia much worse, especially in the elderly population. In pregnant people, bacteria have been shown to contribute to premature birth and low birth weight.

Not only that: bacteria are a direct cause of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease primarily damages the teeth and gums, but it can contribute to other diseases. Laboratory tests have shown that periodontal disease interacts with the pancreas and liver in a way that increases the risk for diabetes. It also increases the likelihood fof Alzheimer’s disease. Periodontal disease can result in tooth loss, and missing teeth can raise the threat of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Importance of dental hygiene

Dental hygiene can impact appearance, which can cause anxiety and stress in personal and professional interactions. Unhealthy teeth can cause pain and raise the risks for serious ailments (or make them worse). For all these reasons, maintenance of dental hygiene is critically important to one’s overall well-being, making home care and regular dental checkups all the more vital.

Accepting New Dental Patients in Erwin, Jonesborough, and Greeneville TN

Our team at Tusculum Dental Care, is committed to helping each of our patients improve their oral health. We are more than happy to assist you in any dental area in which you may have questions or need assistance. If it’s been more than six months since your last trip to the dentist, now is a great time to get back on track. Visit us online or call us at (423) 639-7575 to book an appointment today at one of our two locations.