Have you heard the say­ing “the eyes are the win­dow to your soul”? Well, did you know that your mouth is the win­dow into what is going on with the rest of your body? 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 500 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—This 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.

The health­care costs for the dis­eases and con­di­tions, like the ones list­ed above, can be in the tens of thou­sands of dol­lars. Untreat­ed 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 miss school, 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.

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—Depending on your health­care plan, vis­it your den­tist for a check-up at least once a year. 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.

There’s truth in the say­ing “take care of your teeth and they will take care of you”.  By instill­ing some of the these tips for a health­i­er mouth, not only will your gums and teeth be thank­ing you, but you may just be adding years to your life.