With toothpaste ads hyper focused on fresh-smelling breath and dazzling white teeth, it’s easy to forget that the benefits of maintaining proper oral hygiene extend far beyond minty breath and pearly whites. In fact, because poor oral health can contribute to various other health issues, it becomes even more crucial to develop healthy oral habits. Need extra motivation to brush twice a day? Just read these six health issues that are affected by a good oral hygiene routine (or lack thereof).
Reduced risk of heart disease
A 2007 study published in the Harvard Health Publications linked chronic gum inflammation with heart disease. In particular, the bacteria that is known to cause periodontitis is also present in the dangerous plaque build-ups in blocked arteries. Other cardiovascular issues that can develop in conjunction with heart disease include blocked vessels and strokes. Improving oral health, particularly gum disease lowers your risk of these cardiovascular problems.
Reduce complications from diabetes
Individuals with diabetes often find it difficult for their bodies to fight infections. As poor oral health often leads to inflammation and infections, it becomes that much more difficult for a person with diabetes to fight an oral infection. Prevent gum infections by creating a proper oral routine that includes brushing after each meal and flossing daily.
Improved lung health
Just because an infection begins in your mouth doesn’t mean that the bacteria stay in your mouth. Bacteria from oral infections can easily travel to the lungs, which then increases lung problems such as inflammation. If you suspect you have an infection, call your dentist immediately before the infection grows and spreads.
Pregnancy and birth weight
While morning sickness may create its challenges by exposing the teeth to high acid levels, excellent oral health is vital for maintaining optimal health for both a pregnant mother and the baby. Experts have shown that mothers with gingivitis are at risk to give birth to babies with low birth weight. Remember to keep routine dental appointments during pregnancy and ask your dentist any questions you have regarding pregnancy and oral health.
Reduce inflammation and joint pain
While it may seem odd that inflammation and pain in joints are connected to oral health, studies show that poor oral health contributes to inflammation elsewhere in the body, and that includes joints. Particularly, the study focuses on Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease that causes painful joint swelling. How are these two conditions linked? Scientists believe that the method of tissue destruction in gum disease is the same method of destruction in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Improve mental health and memory
Perhaps the most obvious – yet least discussed –effect of poor oral health is on mental health. Poor hygiene, especially in the cases of decayed teeth, leads to extremely noxious breath, which can create embarrassing social situations and low self-esteem. On the other hand, a mouth free from infections, pain, or decay increases self-esteem and confidence. In addition to increased confidence, good oral health also affects memory; gingivitis has been linked to poorer scores on memory tests.
Keeping your mouth clean is more than just improving your smile; the mouth-body relationship is one that will improve your overall health.