Chew on this – the health of your mouth and teeth have quite a large impact on your overall health. Read on to discover why keeping your pearly whites clean and healthy is something your whole body can smile about.
The Mouth Itself
First, we shouldn’t ignore the very real health problems that affect our teeth, gums and mouth itself. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 3.5 billion people worldwide deal with some type of oral disease. This includes tooth loss, gum disease, birth issues such as cleft lip, oral cancer and more. In fact, lip and oral cavity cancers are among the most common types of cancer, killing almost 180,000 people every year.
The impact of a healthy mouth goes beyond just your teeth, gums and oral cavity. Even your heart and brain are likely affected by the health of your mouth, according to recent research.
Check out this article from Mayo Clinic for a quick summary. Basically, your mouth is full of bacteria. And it’s also the entry point to your respiratory (breathing) and digestive (eating/drinking) tracts. When a person lets too much harmful bacteria build up in their mouth – for example, by not brushing and flossing enough – the bacteria can cause problems throughout the body.
Research has found that bacteria originating from the mouth might contribute to heart disease, stroke, clogged arteries and pneumonia. Periodontitis – a severe gum infection caused by harmful bacteria – has been linked to pregnancy and birth complications, and – according to the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry – it can also affect the brain’s metabolism and might contribute to both prediabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. The takeaway message? Letting bacteria build up in your mouth can be quite harmful.
Take action – keep your mouth healthy and clean.
Luckily, you can help fight bacteria buildup – and other mouth issues – by doing a handful of relatively simple things. Once again, Mayo Clinic provides a great summary of what you should do:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily, using fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss every day.
- Use mouthwash after brushing and flossing. This helps remove any remaining food particles.
- Don’t eat too many foods that have added sugars. And limit sugary drinks.
- Don’t use tobacco products.
And perhaps one of the most important things to do – schedule your regular dental appointments, cleanings and checkups,* and make sure to always contact your dentist if you notice any problems with your teeth or gums. From your smile to your brain to the depths of your heart, your whole body will be thankful.
Interested in learning more about dental care and healthy teeth and gums? Check out these links:
- What are the best and worst foods for your teeth? See this article from our friends at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System.
- These articles from our old blog are just as important today. Learn about caring for your teeth if you have diabetes, and find fun activities and information about food choices for your children’s dental health.
- Discover a wealth of resources to keep your whole family’s teeth healthy, from our partners at Delta Dental.
*Be sure to check your plan details for specifics on dental coverage and costs.