Did you know that prob­lems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Or that your den­tal health offers clues about your over­all health?  Poor den­tal health con­tributes to major sys­temic health prob­lems. Con­verse­ly, good den­tal hygiene can help improve your over­all health.  As a bonus, main­tain­ing good oral health can even REDUCE your health­care costs!

Researchers have shown us that there is a close-knit rela­tion­ship between oral health and over­all well­ness. With over 700 types of bac­te­ria in your mouth, it’s no sur­prise that when even one of those types of bac­te­ria enter your blood­stream that a prob­lem can arise in your body. Oral bac­te­ria can con­tribute to:

  1. Endo­cardi­tis—The infec­tion of the inner lin­ing of the heart can be caused by bac­te­ria that start­ed in your mouth.
  2. Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Dis­ease—Heart dis­ease, as well as clogged arter­ies and even stroke, can be traced back to oral bacteria.
  3. Low birth weight—Poor oral health has been linked to pre­ma­ture birth and low birth weight of newborns.

Over $45 bil­lion is lost in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in the Unit­ed States each year because of untreat­ed oral health prob­lems.  These oral dis­eases can result in the need for cost­ly emer­gency room vis­its, hos­pi­tal stays, and med­ica­tions, not to men­tion loss of work time. The pain and dis­com­fort from infect­ed teeth and gums can lead to poor pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in the work­place, and even loss of income. Chil­dren with poor oral health are more prone to ill­ness and may require a par­ent to stay home from work to care for them and take them to cost­ly den­tal appoint­ments.  In fact, over 34 mil­lion school hours are lost each year because of emer­gency den­tal care.

So, how do you pre­vent this night­mare of pain, dis­ease, and increased health­care costs? It’s sim­ple! By fol­low­ing through with your rou­tine year­ly den­tal check-ups and dai­ly pre­ven­ta­tive care, you will give your body a big boost in its gen­er­al health. Check out these tips for a healthy mouth:

  • Main­tain a reg­u­lar brushing/flossing routine—Brush and floss teeth twice dai­ly to remove food and plaque from your teeth, and in between your teeth where bac­te­ria thrive.
  • Use the right toothbrush—When your bris­tles are mashed and bent, you aren’t using the best instru­ment for clean­ing your teeth. Make sure to buy a new tooth­brush every three months. If you have braces, get a tooth­brush that can eas­i­ly clean around the brack­ets on your teeth.
  • Vis­it your dentist—Visit your den­tist for a check-up every 6 months. He/she will be able to look into that win­dow to your body and keep your mouth clear of bac­te­ria. Your den­tist will also be able to alert you to prob­lems they see as a pos­si­ble warn­ing sign to oth­er health issues, like dia­betes, that have a major impact on your over­all health and health­care costs.
  • Eat a healthy diet—Staying away from sug­ary foods and drinks will pre­vent cav­i­ties and tooth decay from the acids pro­duced when bac­te­ria in your mouth comes in con­tact with sug­ar. Starch­es have a sim­i­lar effect. Eat­ing healthy will reduce your out of pock­et costs of fill­ings, hav­ing decayed teeth pulled, and will keep you from the increased health costs of dia­betes, obe­si­ty-relat­ed dis­eases, and oth­er chron­ic conditions.
  • Drink more water—Water is the best bev­er­age for your over­all health—including oral health. Drink­ing water after every meal can help wash out some of the neg­a­tive effects of sticky and acidic foods and bev­er­ages in between brushes.

A healthy oral hygiene rou­tine will do won­ders for your teeth, mouth, and smile from a den­tal per­spec­tive.  Oral health is also a key indi­ca­tor of over­all health and well-being.  That should keep the rest of your body smil­ing as well!