Your beautiful smile uses approximately 12 muscles when it shows off your pearly whites. When you smile, you boost your mood and you can promote happiness to those around you. Your smile is contagious.
That smile of yours plays a big role in the rest of your body; not only did this just show a link from your mouth to your mood, but your oral health connects to your overall health in more ways than you may realize.
The Systemic Connection
When you have good oral hygiene, it can make you feel more confident. Your smile is one of the first things people notice when they meet you. Your psychological behavior and social confidence are both positively impacted by your oral health. This self-confidence is warranted, as you should feel great about the preventative measures you have taken to manage gingivitis, tooth decay, bad breath, and systemic conditions.
Oral hygiene helps not only with your teeth but the rest of your body. There is a systemic connection to periodontal health and oral hygiene.
Oral Health Connects to Systemic Disease
There are many ways your oral hygiene is connected to your systemic health. Below are eight different conditions that are highly linked to the inflammatory conditions associated with poor oral hygiene. Although this is not a complete list, it is quite a substantial list showing your oral hygiene health affects your entire body system.
- Gum Disease
- Preterm Labor
- Heart Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Oral Cancer
Periodontal (gum) disease is often caused by poor dental hygiene. When you do not floss or brush your teeth frequently, you allow for plaque build-up, bacterial growth, and gum inflammation.
As your gum inflammation worsens, it can lead to bleeding gums, bad breath, receding gum lines, and more serious gum disease that could eventually require gum grafting surgery.
There is a correlation between preterm labor and plaque build-up. Maintaining good oral hygiene and obstetrician care can help with carrying a longer-term pregnancy. There are other risk factors or health conditions that can cause preterm labor, but the plaque build-up and inflammatory conditions associated with oral health are both risks for preterm labor.
Studies have shown a link between bad oral bacteria and lung disease. When you do not have proper oral care, you are increasing your risk for lung infections by allowing this bacteria to grow and proliferate in the mouth. The bacteria that often multiplies in the mouth from poor oral hygiene, is often the same bacteria seen in pneumonia.
Multiple studies have shown that individuals with poor oral hygiene have higher rates of heart disease compared to those who practice good dental health care. Inflammation and bacteria are the two main components of poor dental hygiene. Both of these components are linked to cardiovascular disease.
Infective endocarditis, IE, is an inflammatory infection of the heart. IE is frequently caused by the same bacteria that colonize your mouth. There have been multiple studies correlating good oral hygiene to a lower risk of infective endocarditis.
One study in particular measured plaque levels in people, those with higher plaque levels showed higher levels of IE causing bacteria in their blood after dental work. This implies proper oral hygiene helps prevent infective conditions such as endocarditis.
Diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar glucose levels become too high and unmanageable. Diabetes does have a lot of potential complications, especially when blood sugar levels are not maintained. It can affect your oral health by causing periodontal disease. Poor blood sugar control can lead to periodontal inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes your own tissue to attack itself at the linings of joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful inflammatory condition. The inflammation in gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis are both significantly high. Managing your gum tissue inflammation with proper oral hygiene can decrease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
The link between gum disease and oral cancer has been well documented. In fact, numerous studies have shown that those with periodontal disease have a 2-5 fold increase in their risk for oral cancer.
Prevention is the best type of medicine for your overall health.
The measures taken to prevent disease is termed preventative medicine. Everyone has certain inherent risk factors that can make them more susceptible to certain diseases and health conditions, but when you are cognizant and can take measures to decrease the risk factors from causing diseases, you are taking steps in preventive medicine.
The most important role you have in your own preventative medicine is your lifestyle choice. Not all areas of health can be prevented, but when you take measures by educating yourself and modifying lifestyle behavior to help give your health the best opportunity, you are being an excellent self-advocate.
Oral Hygiene Tips
Here are a few tips for making good oral hygiene a daily part of your routine.
- Floss your teeth properly by using 18 inches of dental floss daily. When using a long enough piece of the dental floss, you are ensuring a clean part of the floss goes between each tooth. Flossing helps remove plaque and excess food particles.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush approved by the ADA. By using a soft-bristled toothbrush, you can prevent gum abrasion.
- Your toothbrush should be changed two to three times a year. When you change your toothbrush you are preventing reinfection from hidden bacteria in the toothbrush bristles.
- Wait 30 minutes after eating before you brush your teeth. Your saliva production immediately after eating helps with the mineralization of your teeth.
- Don’t forget to see your dentist twice a year. If you are doing well and not having any oral discomfort or concerns, a visit with your dentist every 6 months can help with any tartar build-up. This dental visit also keeps a professional eye on your oral health. Scheduling your cleanings and dental visits are integral parts of your preventative oral healthcare.
Your oral health improves when you brush your teeth more often and floss on a regular basis. If you have to wait hours between brushing, a few oral health tips include:
- Chewing Sugarfree Gum: When you are unable to brush your teeth, chewing ADA approved sugarfree gum can help promote the flow of saliva in your mouth. The saliva will help decrease the acidity in your mouth as well as help move the food particles that may be stuck to your teeth. This is definitely not a replacement for brushing your teeth but can be a great resource for you when you are unable to brush.
- Rinsing Your Mouth: If you are unable to brush your teeth, another oral health option is to rinse your mouth out with water. This will help decrease the acidity in your mouth. Rinsing also aids in the removal process of food particles.
If you have any dental discomfort, speak to your dentist to help prevent any conditions from worsening. Don’t delay your dental care.
Be sure to take the time for yourself so you can keep your body healthy. Schedule your cleanings twice a year to have an oral hygiene expert help you stay on top of your oral health.
Why is Oral Hygiene Important for Your Overall Health
As mentioned above, your body is interconnected in more ways than you realize. Your mouth is full of bacteria, hopefully, your mouth has maintained the balance of good bacteria with proper oral hygiene. When you develop dental infections and gum inflammation, you are more at risk for diseases that are interlinked with inflammation and infection.
Most Oral Diseases Are Preventable
With conditions such as gingivitis, dental decay, and more, it may be surprising to learn that most of these conditions can be prevented. It is also quite shocking that this preventable disease is so prevalent in the United States. Studies have shown that over 64 million Americans, 30 years and older, have gum disease.
Taking preventative measures is the best medicine you can give your body. You have learned numerous ways you can self-advocate for your oral healthcare. There are many lifestyle choices and habits that can help you take care of yourself. Education is always key to preventative medicine.
Do you have any questions or concerns relating to your oral health? Let us help you with your oral health prevention plan.
We are here for you. Your overall health is linked to your oral health and we want to help you take control of your healthcare and preventative medicine. We want to keep your beautiful smile beaming. Please reach out if you have any questions on how your teeth relate to your overall health or with any other concerns you may have.