The internet is certainly not lacking in health advice. The tips, tricks, and gurus you can find are seemingly endless, but from those who truly know what they’re talking about, a healthy body tends to only need 3 simple things: a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a consistent sleep schedule. What most people leave out, however, is just how important it is to take care of your teeth. Sure, you know you need to brush and floss to keep your smile looking great, but did you know that your oral health can actually affect your overall health? Today, we discuss how these two relate to each other and why regular trips to your dentist are more important than ever.
How Your Oral Health and Overall Health Are Connected
There is something called the “oral systemic connection,” and while it might sound complicated, it basically means that the health of your mouth is directly linked to the health of the rest of your body. If this is the first time you’ve heard this phrase, you’re probably wondering, “How?”
The mouth is one of the main portals into the body, and anything that is in the mouth can easily travel to everywhere else. The classic example of this is food. Food starts in your mouth, travels down your esophagus into your stomach, and then it goes through digestion where it is distributed throughout your entire body. It all starts with your mouth.
Unfortunately, this means that negative things, such as bacteria, can also easily travel throughout your body via your mouth as well. If you develop gum disease from a lack of oral hygiene at home, for example, it’s very simple for that bacteria to travel through your gums (which are extremely vascular) into your blood stream. This enables the bacteria to go anywhere and potentially do harm, including your heart, lungs, liver, and so on. This is why more and more research is showing that gum disease is a key risk factor for very serious health conditions that seemingly have nothing to do with the mouth, such as diabetes, heart disease, and even dementia.
What You Can Do
OK, so in addition to diet, exercise, and sleep, oral hygiene is also absolutely necessary to live a healthy life. So what all should you do to make sure it is well taken care of?
Fortunately, most of what you need to do can be done easily at home, specifically with routine brushing and flossing. Just by brushing twice a day and flossing at night, you’ll be preventing billions of harmful bacteria from potentially entering your body. Of course, in addition to this home routine, you should also visit your dentist at least twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings, because brushing and flossing alone simply aren’t enough to take care of your teeth in every possible way.
Your diet can also have a big impact on your oral health. Foods that are high in sugar and acids such as sodas, juices, candies, and starchy snacks can stimulate the growth of bacteria and make it much harder for you to keep your teeth healthy. To make things easier, simply limit your consumption of these items to rare occasions, and try to eat more teeth friendly foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.) to give yourself a nice boost. Interestingly enough, foods that are great for your mouth tend to be good for the rest of you as well!
While many people may not be consciously aware of how their oral health and overall health are connected, they probably feel the effect of it every day. By maintaining a balanced diet, a consistent home routine, and regular appointments with your dentist, you’ll be doing fantastic things not only for your smile, but your life as well. That’s certainly worth brushing twice a day!
About the Author
Dr. Darryl Halbert is a general, family, and cosmetic dentist based in Piedmont, SC. He has over 30 years of experience in dentistry, and he is proud to have spent his entire education and career in South Carolina. He believes patient education is extremely important and helps empower people to take better care of their teeth. He currently practices at Tylan Creek Family Dentistry, and he can be contacted via his website or at (864) 962-6671.