The Oral Health-Total Health Link: 6 Steps to Better Health

These six oral care tips can provide real benefits to your overall health as well.

Brushing and flossing your teeth on a daily basis does much more for you than just beautify your smile. Modern medicine recognizes a strong connection between oral health and systemic health, and healthy gums can significantly reduce your risk of disease and other serious health complications.

This is among the most compelling arguments for ingraining good oral hygiene habits in our children as early as possible. Habits made at a young age are likely to follow a person into adulthood and stick with them throughout their lives. We all feel lazy after a hard day at times, but as a parent, it is important to remind ourselves that our children are watching us and mirroring us.

Even the non-parents out there should be mindful that the effectiveness of their oral hygiene routines are often determined by what they do at their worst rather than at their best or on most days. The onset of gum disease, for instance, can happen in a short period and advance quickly too. With that in mind, let us look at six ways in which your oral health boosts your overall health.

  1. Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease – Gum disease is an infection of the gums that results in inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to a wide range of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes. Periodontal disease also increases the risk of oral bacteria entering the bloodstream, and if the immune system is compromised, that can lead to issues with the heart valves. Note that while modern medicine does not recognize it as cause and effect, the presence of gum disease is much higher in people with cardiovascular issues.
  2. Reduced Infections and Inflammation – People with poor oral health are statistically more likely to experience infections and, therefore, inflammation elsewhere in their bodies. Researchers have even found a link between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation. As researchers have explored this link more deeply, it has become clear that there are many similarities between gum disease and RA, including the manner in which connective tissues break down.
  3. More Stable Blood Sugar Levels – Diabetes makes you more prone to gum disease because you are less able to fight off the infection. Gum disease makes blood sugar levels less stable because it can cause them to spike unpredictably. This creates a nasty cycle in which a person with diabetes must balance the treatment of both the diabetes and the gum disease. There is also some recent research that indicates there may be reverse causation, which means that having periodontal disease may make you more prone to diabetes.
  4. Preserves Cognitive Capabilities Later in Life – Research has demonstrated that people with gingivitis—the earliest stage of gum disease—underperform when tested for memory and other cognitive skills. This reduced cognitive ability happens in people as young as 30 years old. More recently, scientific research has found a higher prevalence of gum disease among dementia patients. Oral bacteria has been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, and there is clinical testing underway concerning treating such bacteria.
  5. Leads to Healthier Pregnancies and Births – Pregnant women are more prone to gingivitis due to increased hormone levels and so have to be careful with their oral health. While there is no proven direct link, statistics show that premature births and low birth weights occur at a higher rate in women who have gum disease. In addition, it is possible for oral bacteria to reach the uterus, which means that a mother can pass gum disease on to an unborn child.
  6. Enhances Self-Esteem and Confidence – If you are dealing with gum disease or tooth decay, then you are probably dealing with bad breath, missing teeth, and other issues that can undermine your confidence in social situations. You feel better with a beautiful smile. You concentrate better and sleep better. You can also eat the foods you enjoy, chew them thoroughly and digest them well, which leads to a higher quality of life.

Emphasize Oral Health as a Key to Longevity

It cannot be overstated how important your gum health is to your long-term well-being. It is perhaps the best reason why you should see your dentist at least twice a year. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, is a premier dentist in Arizona, and he and his entire team at Scottsdale Cosmetic Dentistry Excellence look forward to helping you achieve a great smile and better quality of life. Schedule today by calling us at 480 585 1853.

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