Did you know that a healthy mouth and good oral hygiene can actu­al­ly reduce your like­li­hood of oth­er seri­ous dis­eases? Your mouth is more than just a gate­way to enjoy­ing deli­cious food. Your mouth is an indi­ca­tor of your over­all health. Let’s chew on the facts about den­tal health and what it can mean for the rest of your body.

Gum Dis­ease = Warn­ing Sign

Decayed teeth and gum dis­ease are more than just unattractive–they are a report card on how the rest of your body is doing. Inflam­ma­tion of your gums can first show up as bad breath. From there, this warn­ing sign can point to more seri­ous car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems like blocked blood ves­sels and even ele­vat­ed stroke risk. Think your dia­betes is under con­trol? Think again if you have the warn­ing sign of gum dis­ease. Check with your doc­tor if you feel like you just can’t get your swollen and bleed­ing gums to heal. Uncon­trolled dia­betes is linked direct­ly to the inabil­i­ty to fight infec­tions like those gum issues. Final­ly, the warn­ing sign of gum dis­ease has also been tied to high­er risk for arthri­tis and even cog­ni­tive issues like slow­er ver­bal recall and slow­er abil­i­ty to per­form sub­trac­tion problems.

Oral Bac­te­ria = Major Health Risk

Bac­te­ria buildup in your mouth leads your body towards major health issues. Endo­cardi­tis is an infec­tion of the inner lin­ing of your heart cham­bers and can be traced back to oral bac­te­ria that is left unchecked and enters the blood­stream. These same bac­te­ria, left unchecked, can start major heart issues as coro­nary dis­ease, clogged arter­ies, and stroke. Pneu­mo­nia has been caused by bac­te­ria from your mouth being pulled into your lungs. And pre­ma­ture birth and low birth weight can be the result of peri­odon­ti­tis in the birth mother.

Tips to a Healthy Mouth

While the end result of poor oral health can lead to dis­ease, the way to avoid this scary path­way is by prac­tic­ing these good den­tal habits.
• Brush your teeth twice a day. If you are unable to brush, chew sug­ar-free gum or use on-the-go tooth­brush­es like the Col­gate Wisp.
• Make sure you use flu­o­ride tooth­paste to strength­en weak spots and exposed roots.
• After brush­ing, use mouth­wash to rinse away any left­over food particles.
• Replace your tooth­brush every 3 months. Frayed bris­tles are not strong enough to remove food from between teeth.
• Sched­ule reg­u­lar den­tal vis­its for both clean­ings and exams.
• Adhere to a healthy diet that is low in sugar.
• Avoid tobacco.

Under­stand­ing that good den­tal health leads to good over­all health is key. Con­verse­ly, poor den­tal habits have been shown to lead to every­thing from minor infec­tions to major dis­eases. When you take care of your teeth and gums the ben­e­fits to your over­all health are innu­mer­able. Fol­low the tips out­lined here for good den­tal health and your body will reap the ben­e­fits for years to come.

Want to edu­cate oth­ers on the ben­e­fits to good den­tal health? Check out these resources:
World Oral Health Day—March 20
Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention
Amer­i­can Den­tal Asso­ci­a­tion—Print­a­bles and Activ­i­ties for Children