Understanding How Oral Health Impacts Overall Health
Let’s address the proverbial elephant in the room: Yes, dental care and medical care are separate entities.
And it’s no secret that dental care has historically not been treated with the same level of importance as “medical” care. The first dental coverage in healthcare plans didn’t surface until the 1960s. Even today, dental procedures are primarily ruled elective, and only partially covered at best.
But here’s the tooth: Dental health is important, and absolutely has an impact on overall health. And it’s crucial to take care of your pearly whites.
Let’s start with the basics: Brushing
In case you forgot your childhood teachings, it’s recommended that you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Brushing your teeth is integral to maintaining your oral health. Skipping can cause bacteria in your mouth to multiply, possibly reaching levels that can lead to oral infections, like gum disease. Which is not only incredibly painful, but can result in bone decay, tooth loss, and really really bad breath.
And let’s not forget the tooth brush’s faithful companion: dental floss. Flossing is also important when it comes to keeping bacteria under control, because plaque and bacteria hide between your teeth. (Those little buggers.) If you don’t floss, that bacteria has the same potential as any other bacteria to wreak havoc on your gums and teeth.
We know it’s so tempting to just say “yes” when the dentist asks if you’ve been flossing, but save your mouth a world of plaque and bacteria, and just start flossing.
The impact of poor oral health on overall health
It’s not just about your smile. (Although, your smile is pretty important.)
According to the MAYO Clinic, poor oral hygiene can result in detrimental effects on other parts of the body as well. Here are a few conditions that can result from not practicing proper :
- Endocarditis: Endocarditis is the infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers or valves. This condition develops when bacteria from another part of the body, like your mouth, spreads through your bloodstream and attaches itself to the heart.
- Cardiovascular disease: Research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may have something to do with inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
- Pregnancy and birth complications: Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Pneumonia: Certain oral bacteria can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
When to seek out professional dental care
So, you’ve been slacking a bit. We didn’t scare you enough with the tales of the true cost of skipping daily brushing and flossing. How do you know when it’s time to grit your teeth and pay the dentist a visit? Here are a few signs:
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Gums that begin pulling away from your teeth
- Loose permanent teeth
- Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
- Persistent bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth
- Painful chewing
Of course, scheduling regular cleanings twice yearly can help prevent the need for any of these less-than-pleasant symptoms and even more unpleasant costs treatment would come with.
If none of this has you convinced yet, maybe our friends Hippocrates and Aristotle can help convince you. Both wrote about dentistry, including the eruption pattern of teeth, treating decayed teeth and gum disease, extracting teeth with forceps, and using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws.
Protect your oral and overall health. Brush your teeth, floss, use mouthwash, eat a healthy diet, swap out your toothbrush regularly, avoid tobacco use, and schedule regular trips to see your dentist.
Trust us, you’re saving yourself a lot of toothache.
Read more fun facts, expert advice, and dental industry news on the Biteline blog.