Clean, healthy gums, sparkling teeth, and fresh breath: A vibrant smile brings us undeniable confidence. With daily brushing and flossing, we avoid potential problems such as plaque buildup, tooth decay, infection, gum disease and more.
However, did you know the benefits of oral health are more than meets the eye? And, on the flipside, poor dental hygiene affects your overall health and sense of well-being. Read on to learn more about the connection between teeth and overall health and get tips for shaping up your care routine.
Plaque is the root cause of common issues
A lack of effective daily brushing and flossing results in plaque buildup and excess bacteria, which causes a host of oral health concerns. Left unchecked, some common complications can develop. Although they may begin in your mouth, we’ll discuss how these culprits can negatively affect your entire body.
Gingivitis: Early stages of gum disease causing irritation, redness, and swelling
Periodontitis: Next stage of gum disease, resulting in tooth loss and gum infections. Surprisingly, this is often painless until it reaches more advanced stages.
Trench mouth: Most severe form of gum disease, causing ulceration and killing gum tissue
Brush up on the risks
When we let our oral hygiene slip, the domino effect can be traced throughout our system. Ranging from taxing internal organs to aggravating or even causing fatal diseases, the spectrum of connection between the mouth and body is a fascinating and important area of medicine.
People with diabetes have a heightened risk of developing severe gum disease, as diabetes reduces the body’s resilience to infection. Unfortunately, if a diabetic develops severe gum disease, it can promote insulin resistance, which further complicates the control of blood sugar. Regular visits to the dentist for observation and proactive care will help manage this risk.
Researchers have also linked severe gum disease to premature birth and low birth weight. It’s hypothesized that toxins from oral bacteria and infection reach the placenta through the mother’s bloodstream, tampering with the natural growth and development process. Expectant women can avoid this risk by taking good care of their oral health. If intending to become pregnant, we recommend a dental checkup as soon as possible, prior to becoming pregnant.
Most of us have heard whisperings about the link between heart health and oral health, but the extreme implications of this connection deserve more detail. Gum infections, such as those listed above, can cause inflammation throughout your body and increase the risk of obstructions forming in your arteries. These complications increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and cardiovascular disease.
Additional conditions linked to oral health include HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, eating disorders, various cancers and more.
Prevention is your best protection
Not all habits are created equally. Some improve your health, like daily flossing, while others deteriorate it. Smoking substances, such as tobacco or cannabis, causes gum disease and tooth decay. It also reduces saliva production, which is a natural mouth protectant. Drinking excess alcohol causes gum disease, tooth decay, and mouth sores. Sugar is also a not-so-sweet nemesis, causing excess bacteria and plaque that leads to enamel breakdown and tooth decay. There are many other reasons to avoid overindulging in these things, but keeping your mouth in tip-top shape definitely makes the list.
By now you’ve seen just a few of the ways poor dental hygiene affects overall health. You can protect yourself from these risk factors now and for years to come by indulging in healthy lifestyle routines. Through proper nutrition, regular dentist visits, and daily flossing and brushing, your pearly whites will thrive.
The mouth-body connection: Tips & takeaways
- There’s a vital connection between teeth and overall health
- Regular flossing and brushing prevents mouth bacteria from wreaking havoc in your system
- To avoid an issue going untreated, we recommend a routine cleaning every 6 months and a dental exam annually
- Maintain your oral health by avoiding unhealthy habits and adopting preventative routines