We all know that not brushing and flossing can have a significant impact on your teeth and gums. But not everyone understands the effect that oral health has on your overall health. Brushing and flossing are more important than you might think. Of course, you’re probably aware of brushing and flossing for better dental health, but are you aware that your mouth health can directly affect your overall health?
The mouth is the gateway to your body, and often if you have a healthy mouth, you will have a healthy body. The mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Usually, the body’s natural defences and good oral hygiene, such as daily brushing and flossing, help keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper dental care, bacteria can reach high levels that might lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Inflammation impairs the body’s ability to utilise insulin. By improving your oral hygiene and treating gum disease, you can help bring diabetes under better control.
Treating periodontal disease has been shown to reduce pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Though the reasons are still not fully understood, it is clear that gum disease and heart disease often go hand in hand. Up to 91% of patients with heart disease also have periodontitis. It’s suspected that periodontitis has a direct role in raising the risk of heart disease. The theory is that inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation in the blood vessels.
Two studies have linked obesity to gum disease. It appears that periodontitis progresses more quickly in the presence of higher body fat.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of gum related problems. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. Researchers are looking into the connection, but it is believed that gum infection and inflammation, in general, seem to interfere with a fetus’ development in the womb.
Periodontal disease may make pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worse, possibly increasing the number of bacteria in the lungs.
It’s important to understand that the body and mouth are not separate. Taking good care of your teeth and gums can help you live well for longer. To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene every day by doing the following:
• Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
• Floss or use interdental brushes daily
• Eat a healthy balanced diet and limit snacks between meals
• Replace your toothbrush every three or sooner if needed
• Have regular dental health checks
• Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol