Most people know that good oral hygiene is essential for protecting their oral health. But did you know that brushing and flossing could help determine your risk for other serious health problems? Here’s how your oral health could affect other parts of your body.
What is the Whole-Body Connection?
According to the American Dental Association, researchers have found evidence that inflammation and bacteria from periodontitis can play a role in some systemic diseases and conditions that plague the entire body, including cardiovascular and heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy/birth complications and pneumonia. While more research is needed to better understand the link between oral health and chronic, life-threatening diseases; it’s clear that there is a significant connection between proper oral hygiene and good overall health.
Why This is a Widespread Health Problem
Unfortunately, poor dental health is an all-too-common problem. Experts report that periodontal disease is the sixth most common chronic condition on the planet, impacting nearly 750 million people. In the United States alone, about half the population suffers from some form of gum disease; that means 2.5 times more Americans have periodontitis than diabetes.
How To Protect Your Overall Health
To protect your overall health, reduce your risk of tooth loss and gum disease, and heave a healthy mouth it’s important to practice good oral hygiene every day:
- Brush your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush using a toothpaste containing fluoride
- Floss every day
- Use mouthwash after brushing and flossing to remove any food particles still remaining
- Be sure to replace your toothbrush every 3 months or so
- Eat a healthy diet and stay away from sugary foods/beverages as much a possible
- Stay away from tobacco
- Maintain regular checkups with your dentist to help identify minor problems before they evolve into serious issues.
Many people are surprised to learn that gum disease can develop without obvious symptoms. As things progress, you may notice bleeding, redness, swelling, pain and even bad breath, but by that point it will likely require ongoing treatment to prevent it worsening. Because you don’t always see the symptoms, it is important that you have regular visits with your dentist & hygienist. If your dentist identifies a potential problem, he or she can recommend treatments that will keep the damage from spreading. In addition to saving you from pain and tooth loss, early intervention could help lower your risk for other long-term health problems.
Learn more about how stress can affect your oral health here!