Did you know that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Or that your dental health offers clues about your overall health? 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 700 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:
- Endocarditis—The infection of the inner lining of the heart can be caused by bacteria that started in your mouth.
- Cardiovascular Disease—Heart disease, as well as clogged arteries and even stroke, can be traced back to oral bacteria.
- Low birth weight—Poor oral health has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight of newborns.
Over $45 billion is lost in productivity in the United States each year because of untreated oral health problems. These 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 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. In fact, over 34 million school hours are lost each year because of emergency dental care.
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—Visit your dentist for a check-up every 6 months. 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.
- Drink more water—Water is the best beverage for your overall health—including oral health. Drinking water after every meal can help wash out some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages in between brushes.
A healthy oral hygiene routine will do wonders for your teeth, mouth, and smile from a dental perspective. Oral health is also a key indicator of overall health and well-being. That should keep the rest of your body smiling as well!