How Oral Health Affects Your Overall Well-Being
We’ve all heard about the importance of working out and eating a balanced diet to live a healthy life. But there is one key component that rarely gets discussed – oral health. Most people only tend to think of the health of their teeth and gums when there is a problem, or they are headed to the dentist for a regular check-up. However, your oral health is actually a major contributor to your body’s overall wellness.
You’re likely familiar with the traditional consequences of poor brushing and flossing habits – cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. But did you know that poor oral health, specifically gum disease, has been found to increase chances of heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis?
That’s right – now there is even more of a reason to brush and floss regularly than just vanity.
Like other parts of your body, your mouth is full of mostly harmless bacteria. However, without good brushing and flossing habits, your mouth – which is the entry point for your digestive and respiratory tracts – can become overrun with bacteria and that can lead to infections.
So, what should you do to ensure your mouth is in the best health possible? Practice regular oral hygiene, which according to the American Dental Association (ADA) includes:
- Brushing teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush
- Flossing daily
- Using a mouthwash after brushing and flossing to remove any leftover food particles
- Replacing your toothbrush regularly – either every three months, or if the bristles appear worn
- Scheduling regular dental checkups and cleanings
- Eating a healthy diet and limiting your intake of foods with added sugars
- Avoiding tobacco use
The ADA also recommends that you visit your dentist as soon as a problem arises.
It is also important to keep in mind that some underlying medical conditions can also negatively impact your health. If you have osteoporosis, diabetes or HIV/AIDS, be sure to pay special attention to the health of your mouth as these conditions can contribute to bone loss, gum disease and other oral problems.
Proactive care and rapid response to issues are key to ensuring your mouth continues to stay healthy throughout your life, and positively contributes to your body’s overall health.