How Optimal Oral Health Leads to a Healthier Lifestyle
Your body is one of the most complex machines on earth. And just like a sports car, your entire body must be cared for to keep it running on all cylinders.
In fact, ignoring oral health can lead to more than just you not liking the look of your smile. It can lead to issues with the health of your mouth, such as cavities, receding gums, and lost teeth, or issues with the rest of your body, including your heart.
In most cases, these problems lead back to 2 main culprits: tooth decay and gum disease.
The connection between oral health and your whole-body health
Just because you visit a dentist for your teeth and a general practitioner for the rest of your body doesn’t mean that problems originating in your mouth can’t be connected to general health issues.
Just like how you’ll feel pain in your foot when you have sciatica pain, or how you’ll have trouble breathing when you hurt your ribs, oral health issues can result in problems in other parts of your body. When you experience tooth decay or gum disease, the rest of your body reacts in a way that can create new problems that you would have never guessed originated in your mouth.
So why does tooth decay and gum disease affect the rest of your body?
When bacteria develops in your mouth through an oral infection stemming from tooth decay, it does not just stay in your mouth. In fact, your blood stream acts as a super highway that brings the bacteria to other parts of your body such as your heart, liver, and gut.
Your immune system
Your immune system is constantly working to fight off disease and infection. When you’re experiencing gum disease, your immune system kicks in to fight off the disease. But when it does this, your gums become inflamed. Eventually, this inflammation actually begins to eat away at your gums and bones, doing damage to both.
5 ways that a healthy mouth leads to a healthier lifestyle
1. Lowers your risk for heart disease
Researchers have discovered that there is a likely connection between heart disease and periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease. In the past, it has been hard to establish a direct link due to similar risk factors , such as obesity, smoking, and an unhealthy diet.
Now, it appears the link is through inflammation. When you experience gum disease, the inflammation in your mouth increases the inflammation of your blood vessels. This raises blood pressure and the likelihood that fatty plaque breaks off and travels to your heart, both of which increase the likelihood of heart disease.
2. Helps manage diabetes
Physicians now consider gum disease to be a major complication for diabetes. Why is this? Gum disease can actually make it harder for insulin to do its job. Additionally, the high blood sugar common with diabetes can actually increase the risk of gum disease.
For those who experience diabetes, working to avoid and treat gum disease when it develops will help manage diabetes.
3. Provides a healthier pregnancy
For pregnant women, gum disease can be a real threat. Women with gum disease are 3 times more likely to deliver a baby prematurely, which also results in a low birth weight.
The reason for this is that gum disease has been shown to increase the chemicals that induce labor. While you should not worry about this too much, it is a good idea to speak to your dentist during your pregnancy to understand the risk.
4. Longer lasting teeth and a preserved natural smile
Restorative dentistry is a beautiful thing (quite literally). The way that dentists can now restore teeth and gums is incredible and truly can help a patient experiencing serious dental issues restore their smile to like-new.
With that said, it is still always preferable to keep your natural teeth when possible. When you are keeping up with oral health maintenance such as regular cleaning and preventive dentistry, you are much more likely to avoid serious oral health issues and keep your natural teeth.
5. More self-confidence in your appearance
A smile is only as good as how you feel about it. We work with many patients who are self-conscious of their smiles. Often this is due to not having been to the dentist in a while, which led to missing or damaged teeth or serious decay. Often though, it is because of a cosmetic issue that gives them a smile they don’t truly love.
When you take care of your teeth and invest in cosmetic or restorative treatments, you’ll be investing in your self-confidence, too. If a treatment makes you feel better about your smile, you’ll feel better about yourself and have more self-confidence.
How can you protect your whole body health through dentistry?
Practice good at-home oral hygiene — The foundation of a healthy smile is at-home oral hygiene. Make sure to brush twice a day and floss at least once.
A healthy diet and lifestyle — Beyond just helping you feel better, a healthy diet will reduce tooth decay and keep your smile healthy. Additionally, not smoking goes a long way towards helping your mouth — and entire body — stay healthy.
Visit your dentist regularly — Twice-yearly cleaning and exams will put your mouth in the best position to fight decay and gum disease. It will also ensure problems are caught early when treatment is more manageable.
Don’t put off treatment — No good comes from waiting to complete a filling. Always move forward with treatment if your trusted dentist recommends a treatment.
How your dentist can help your entire body stay healthy
Your dentist is your key partner in oral and physical health. Just like when you choose a physician or psychologist, selecting a dentist that you trust will go a long way towards staying healthy.
At Pickens Family Dentistry, Dr. Pickens is here to be your long-term partner in oral and whole body health. Our entire team believes deeply that the health of your smile is an extension of the health of your entire body. We take it as our responsibility to make sure you not only have a healthy smile, but that you are a healthy individual who feels great.
At our dental office, we work to address the root of any symptoms you are experiencing. We don’t just want to put a bandaid on the problem you’re having today, but treat the real issue that is causing the symptom. We’ll always explain treatment recommendations thoroughly so you understand why we make the recommendations we’re making.
Contact us today to request an appointment and get started with dentistry reimagined.