Taking good care of your oral hygiene does more than help guarantee you have a bright, white smile. A healthy mouth and healthy body go hand-in-hand. Good oral hygiene and oral health can improve your overall health, reducing the risk of disease and sometimes even preserving your memory as you get older.
At the office of Dr. Guy Peabody, a Santa Cruz Dentist, we always say it is never too early to start educating children to take care of their teeth. Healthy habits learned in adolescence can save a lot of money and headache in adulthood. The expression, “healthy mouth, healthy life,” really is true — and is backed up by growing scientific evidence.
Here are six ways that having healthy teeth and gums can help boost your overall health.
- Your Self-Esteem and Confidence will improve
Gum disease, yellow teeth, and decayed teeth are often associated, not only with visually unappealing mouth, but also with bad breath. This bad breath can be so bad it can affect your confidence, self-image, and self-esteem.
If you have a healthy mouth that is free of gum disease, cavities, and bad breath, your quality of life is also bound to be better. You can eat properly, sleep better, and concentrate with no aching teeth or mouth infections to distract you.
- Your Risk of Heart Disease is Reduced
Chronic inflammation from gum disease has been associated with the development of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, blockages of blood vessels, and strokes. Experts stop short of saying that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between gum disease and these other serious health problems, but the link has been shown in numerous studies. The findings of these studies may suggest that maintaining oral health can help protect overall health.
- Memory Retention
Adults with gingivitis (swollen, bleeding gums) performed worse on tests of memory and other cognitive skills than did those with healthier gums and mouths, according to a report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
Those with gingivitis were more likely to perform poorly on two tests: delayed verbal recall and subtraction, both skills that are used in everyday life.
- Reduces Your Risk of Infection and Inflammation in Other Parts of Your Body
Poor oral health has been linked to the development of infection in other parts of the body. Research has found an association between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints. Experts say the mechanism of destruction of connective tissues in both gum disease and RA is similar.
Eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly, and good oral hygiene help reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss once a day. Using an antibacterial mouthwash or toothpaste can help reduce bacteria in the mouth that can cause gingivitis.
- Helps Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable if You Have Diabetes
People with uncontrolled diabetes often have gum disease. Having diabetes can make you less able to fight off infection, including gum infections that can lead to serious gum disease. Some experts have found that if you have diabetes, you also are more likely to develop more severe gum problems than someone without diabetes.
That may make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. Reducing your risk of gingivitis by protecting your oral health may help with blood sugar control if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
- Helps Pregnant Women Carry Their Babies to Term
Women may experience increased gingivitis during pregnancy. Some research suggests a relationship between gum disease and pre-term, low-birth-weight infants.
Not all studies have found a solid link, but maintaining good oral health is still the best goal. If you’re pregnant, visit your dentist or periodontist as part of your prenatal care. Consider it good practice for the role modeling that lies ahead for all new parents.
If you are in the Santa Cruz, Capitola, Aptos or Scotts Valley area and want more information about your teeth and gums, please contact Dr. Guy Peabody for a consultation. 831-457-0343