Taking care of your teeth and mouth is about more than maintaining an attractive smile. Your oral health reflects on the rest of your physical health, too.
How Oral Health Affects the Whole Body
The health of your teeth, gums, and mouth matters when it comes to overall well-being. Neglecting or putting it too low on your personal health priority list is a mistake that could have serious consequences. Here’s why:
Mouths are Dirty
All puns aside, your mouth is one of the dirtiest parts of your body. The very nature of your mouth makes it a hotbed for unfriendly bacteria to stake their claim if not treated properly with regular brushing, flossing, and cleanings. The bacteria can then wreak havoc in the way of gum inflammation (not to mention unpleasant breath). Left untreated, gum disease (periodontitis) develops and progresses, putting you at risk of tooth loss and other oral complications.
Oral Care is a Part of Healthy Lifestyle
You may have heard that periodontitis can actually cause heart attack and stroke. The truth is that there is no evidence that poor oral hygiene is directly linked to heart disease.
The reason this misunderstanding exists is that periodontitis and heart disease share risk factors; in other words, people with risk factors for periodontitis may also have risk factors for heart disease. This may be due to the fact that health habits and overall lifestyle choices make a huge impact on both, and not prioritizing this leads to complications.
We’ll have to wait for more research to be done on this topic, but the main takeaway is that oral health is an indicator of overall health. It’s likely that if you brush and floss each day and visit the dentist regularly, you also prioritize your health in other areas—exercise, healthy diet, sufficient sleep, etc.
If you don’t already follow the tips outlined below, try making them habits. You may find yourself motivated to prioritize your health in other ways too.
5 Tips for a Healthy Mouth and Body
Like many health issues, prevention goes a lot further than reacting once they arise. Here are some easy ways that you can protect the health of your mouth and whole body.
- Eat a wholesome diet. Seems simple enough, but this takes a lot of food awareness in an age where the most popular foods are highly processed, packaged, or eaten from a takeout container. Therefore, it’s important to educate yourself about the foods you eat. Two of the best things you can do are cut added sugar as much as possible from your diet and prepare healthy meals at home with wholesome ingredients. Cheese, nuts, poultry, fruits, and veggies are all actually very good for your teeth.
- Brush twice per day. If you drink coffee or eat citrus or other enamel-unfriendly foods, consider brushing or swishing mouthwash afterward to prevent harm to your teeth.
- Floss every day. Day, night, on your lunch break—it doesn’t really matter when you do it. Just make sure you are tending to your gums with this simple step. Once you get into the habit, you’ll see what a breeze it really is. And, it feels good.
- Replace toothbrushes on a schedule. When you open a new toothbrush, mark it down on your calendar or set a reminder in your phone to replace it after three or four months. Toothbrushes carry their own share of bacteria and become less effective as the bristles wear away.
- See a dentist. As a general rule, see the dentist every six months. If you have oral health concerns in between appointments– jaw popping, clicking or occasional locking, common signs of TMD (temporomandibular disorder), in particular, don’t wait. Set an appointment right away with a TMD dentist to keep any issues from escalating.
A Happy Mouth Equals a Happy Self
There are so many reasons why maintaining proper oral health is important, and the good news is that it is relatively simple to accomplish. Stay ahead of potential oral health problems by seeing a dentist regularly, paying attention to pain, and caring for your teeth on a daily basis. Oral health maintenance is an easy way to strengthen the health of your entire body, so don’t wait to make it a priority.