• Poor oral hygiene can lead to systemic inflammation and chronic conditions like diabetes, gum disease, and heart attack.
• Practicing preventive habits, like brushing twice a day and flossing, can help maintain healthy teeth and gums.
• Limiting sugary drinks and foods and getting regular dental visits can help spot any issues before they become serious problems.
• If you have existing dental issues, treatments like cleanings, fillings, crowns, or implants may be necessary to restore oral health.
Many people don’t realize how closely linked oral health is to overall health. Having a good set of teeth is not just about maintaining a great smile; it’s also an important part of having and maintaining an overall healthy life. Here’s what makes having healthy teeth so important.
A Connection to Your Overall Health
Healthy teeth and gums have been scientifically linked to your overall well-being. Research indicates that tooth decay can cause systemic inflammation throughout the body, affecting your immune system and leading to chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
In addition, poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease, which has been closely associated with stroke and heart attack risk factors. Even something seemingly innocuous as bad breath can indicate that something is off with your oral health—and if you don’t get it checked out, it could indicate more serious underlying conditions.
Here are ways in which oral health is linked to overall health:
This refers to the inflammation that can spread throughout the body from the mouth. When bacteria in the mouth thrive due to poor oral hygiene, it can lead to systemic inflammation throughout your entire body. This can increase your risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Tooth Decay and Chronic Conditions
Tooth decay can also cause chronic conditions such as diabetes. Bacteria in your mouth that are allowed to grow unchecked due to poor oral hygiene can enter the bloodstream and attach to cells, leading to inflammation and impairing glucose metabolism. This makes it more difficult for your body to control blood sugar levels, increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Gum Disease and Heart Attack Risk Factors
Gum disease, caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth, can increase your risk of developing heart attack risk factors. Plaque can release toxins into the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis—a condition that narrows and hardens your arteries. This increases your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
Preventive Care Is Essential
The best way to avoid serious oral health issues is to practice good preventative care, including brushing twice daily for two minutes each time (and flossing at least once a day). Practicing preventive care means doing the following:
Regular Brushing and Flossing
These habits might seem mundane, but they are essential to keeping your mouth healthy. It’s important to brush twice daily for two minutes and floss at least once daily. Doing so helps remove plaque and bacteria from between teeth and along the gum line, which can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease if left unchecked.
Avoiding Sugary Drinks and Foods
Sugar is one of the main culprits behind tooth decay, as it feeds bacteria in your mouth and leads to plaque buildup. Since sugar is present in almost all sugary drinks and foods, it’s important to limit your consumption and wash them down with water whenever possible.
Regular Dental Visits
No matter how diligent you are about brushing and flossing, you must visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and check-ups. Going for bi-annual check-ups will allow your dentist to spot any warning signs before they become major dental issues or, even worse, lead to other systemic diseases related to poor oral health.
What to Do with the Damages
If you already have existing dental issues, taking action and getting your oral health back on track is important. Depending on the situation, you can do the following:
- Cleaning: This is the least invasive of all the options and involves a deep cleaning of your teeth. During this procedure, your dentist or hygienist will use special tools to remove tartar, plaque, and bacteria from below the gum line.
- Fillings: If you have cavities, fillings are the way to go. During this procedure, your dentist will remove the decayed parts of your teeth and fill them with a material to restore their structure.
- Crowns: If you have more serious tooth decay, crowns are an effective way to treat it. During this procedure, your dentist will remove the decayed portions of your teeth and replace them with custom-made caps that look and function like natural teeth.
- Implants: Dental implant options are the most advanced form of dental restoration and offer a long-term solution for missing or damaged teeth. During this procedure, your dentist will insert titanium rods into the jawbone to anchor the dental prosthetics.
No matter what dental issue you’re facing, there are solutions available to help restore your dental health and keep it in check. Prevention is key, but some treatments can help get your oral health back on track if you already have dental issues. With the right dental care, you can enjoy a healthier life overall.