UPDATED: Mar 26, 2020
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Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums does more than help ensure you have a bright, white smile. As it turns out, a healthy mouth and healthy body go hand in hand and good oral hygiene can improve your overall well being. Taking care of your teeth can add up to 6.4 years to your life. Brushing and flossing is no longer just good for your breath, it is also good for your health.
Periodontal disease has a great deal to do with this. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection from plaque buildup that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene may be indicators of premature death. This is because the infection can travel from your gums to the rest of your body and cause much more significant problems.
Oral bacteria may compromise cardiovascular health in a number of ways. Oral bacteria can affect the heart by entering the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterized by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries due to the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks. People with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts diabetics at increased risk. Diabetics who have periodontal disease especially should be treated to eliminate the periodontal infection.
Oral infections are associated with increased risk of respiratory infections. Respiratory bacteria can travel from the oral cavity into the lungs. This can cause infections of the lung or worsen existing lung conditions. People with respiratory diseases typically suffer from reduced protective systems, making it difficult to eliminate bacteria from the lungs.
Below are some tips for maintaining oral, and therefore overall, health:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Change your toothbrush every three or four months.
- Floss your teeth on a daily basis.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Avoid tobacco products.
- Use antimicrobial mouth rinses and toothpastes as they stop bacterial activity.
- Use fluoride mouth rinse and fluoride toothpaste to protect against tooth decay and gingivitis.
- Visit your dentist on a regular basis for cleaning and check-ups.
Having a beautiful smile can mean enjoying a longer lifespan. Keeping a clean mouth helps you to avoid periodontal disease and the dangerous side effects that come along with it. The long-term health benefits of oral hygiene may also help you outlive your term life insurance policy!