Not Just a Pretty Smile: Why Clean Teeth Are Essential to Your Overall Health

Watch your mouth! (to watch everything else)

There’s nothing more attractive than a pearly-white smile. And from the moment we’re old enough to hold a toothbrush, most of us are told how important it is to brush our teeth in order to keep it that way. Regular care helps to prevent cavities and promote fresh breath.

Now that’s attractive!

Yet many of us never really appreciate that there are other crucial reasons to take care of our mouths. Oral hygiene is a huge factor in your overall health because it can ward off a number of major issues. Let’s take a look at some of them, including a few that may surprise you:

Poor dental hygiene is linked to serious diseases that have nothing to do with your smile

All of us have heard of the common oral conditions that are caused by poor hygiene, cavities perhaps being the most famous example. But did you know that if you don’t take care of your teeth, you could be putting yourself at risk for serious systemic diseases? When you have health problems in your mouth, they can affect your entire body.

Oral bacteria and periodontitis can increase your risk for:

  • Heart disease: Research shows that several heart conditions, including clogged arteries, cardiovascular disease, and the risk of stroke may be linked to the inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria.
  • Endocarditis: This infection in the inner lining of the heart happens when bacteria from other parts of the body, like your mouth, are spread through your bloodstream and then attach to damaged areas in your heart.
  • Diabetes: Gum disease and infection in the mouth are more prevalent in individuals with diabetes, since the disease lowers resistance to infection. Compounding the problem is the fact that diabetes sufferers who have gum disease struggle harder to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
  • Osteoporosis: This disease, which causes bones to weaken and become brittle, may be linked to periodontal bone loss.
  • Low birth weight and premature babies: Pregnant women with periodontitis have a higher risk of giving birth prematurely to babies with lower-than-average birth weight.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Individuals who lose teeth because of poor oral health and who have other mouth conditions before age 35 may be at an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

There are worse things than cavities

If you’ve ever had a cavity, a cracked tooth, or needed a root canal, you already know how painful NOT taking care of your teeth can be. Not brushing and flossing enough (or doing it improperly) can lead to plaque buildup in your mouth, which can lead to more serious problems. Plaque, the sticky film that clings to your teeth, signifies an accumulation of bacteria, which is especially problematic in the area between your teeth and gums. And when bacteria builds up, it fosters an environment for infection—putting you at risk for more serious oral conditions that include:

  • Gingivitis: irritation, redness and swelling of the gums.
  • Periodontitis: inflammation around the tissues near the teeth, causing shrinkage of the gums and loose teeth.
  • Trench Mouth: a severe form of gum disease that causes intense pain, infected and bleeding gums, and ulcerations.Taking good care of your teeth and gums is key to ensuring that your mouth and your entire body stay healthy. It’s not just about having a great looking smile, but also about eliminating bacteria that will reduce your risk for other serious health conditions.

If you have questions about oral hygiene, are concerned about your dental health, or are in need of routine, preventative, or restorative dental services, get in touch with us today. We’d love to help.

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