Brushing and flossing aren’t just beneficial for your teeth! Turns out, your oral hygiene can affect your overall health. By taking care of your teeth, gums, and mouth, you’re also helping take care of your entire body. Let’s take a deeper dive into what medical experts call The Mouth-Body Connection as we look at how periodontitis (or gum disease) can affect your well-being.
How Dental Health Affects Overall Health
Over the course of the day, plaque and bacteria build up on your teeth. If plaque and tartar (the hardened version of plaque) aren’t properly removed through brushing and flossing, they can ultimately cause gum disease. From there, the inflammation that results can create wellness issues in the rest of the body. Medical conditions connected to gum disease include
- Heart disease. Up to 91% patients with heart disease are also diagnosed with gum disease. There’s evidence to suggest that fatty plaque on the teeth can break off and cause problems in other parts of the body, including the heart and brain.
- Diabetes. There’s strong evidence to link periodontitis and diabetes. Inflammation in the mouth can sometimes weaken the ability for your body to control blood sugar. But it goes both ways: high blood sugar can also cause gum infections. If you have diabetes, you’ll want to pay special attention to your oral hygiene!
- Alzheimer’s disease. Research out of NYU offers evidence that gum inflammation potentially connects to brain inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Pregnancy and birth. Gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums, is a common occurrence during pregnancy. Experts have made a link between gum disease and low birth weight, and in some cases even premature birth.
- Osteoporosis. According to the National Institute of Health, osteoporosis can increase the risk of gum disease and vice versa. Dealing with one may result in needing to deal with the other.
How to Get Healthy Teeth
The basics of oral hygiene are steadfast. The more you remove the plaque and bacteria that build up on teeth and gums, the healthier your mouth (and your body) will be.
A few rules to stick by:
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss thoroughly once a day
- Schedule regular dental cleanings twice annually
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, especially if the bristles look frayed
- Maintain a healthy diet, avoiding foods with added sugars
Another thing you can do? Avoid smoking. Not smoking is great for your oral hygiene and your health overall. According to the CDC, smokers are twice as likely as a non-smoker to develop gum disease! What’s more, gum disease treatments typically aren’t as effective for smokers.
Dakota Dental Can Help Your Oral Health Get on Track
If it’s been awhile since you visited us, now is a great time to jump back into a regular dental routine. We recommend cleanings twice a year (or every six months) to help your teeth and gums stay healthy. Investing in your oral health is one of the best ways to support your overall well-being and take care of yourself! Contact us at Dakota Dental to get your teeth and gums in tip-top shape.