Poor dental health affects more than your teeth and gums. Your oral health is intimately linked to your systemic health, and problems like periodontal disease and tooth decay can impact your body as a whole or indicate other conditions.
Your Oral Health and Your Overall Health
The WebMD feature “What Your Dental Health Says about You” notes that periodontitis—an advanced form of gum disease—in particular has been linked to an increased risk for a number of general health problems including:
- Heart disease
- Premature birth and low birth weight
- Endocarditis (infection of the heart’s inner lining)
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums; if not treated, the bacteria can eventually enter the bloodstream, which can further erode your dental health and contribute to other systemic health complications. Periodontal disease and tooth loss have also been associated with osteoporosis.
Dental Health and Diabetes
Dental health problems like gum disease, tooth decay, shifting teeth and bone loss also occur more commonly among those with certain health conditions including autoimmune diseases and diabetes.
In fact, it is thought that approximately one-third of Americans with diabetes are unaware they have it. Evidence also suggests that dental health professionals can play a significant role in the timely diagnosis of diabetes (just another reason to schedule your regular checkup with your dentist!).
Protecting Your Oral Health
The Mayo Clinic refers to your oral health as “a window to your overall health.” So just how do you protect that window?
We all know the basics:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably soon after meals
- Floss between your teeth at least once a day to remove lingering food particles that can contribute to plaque buildup
- Visit your dentist regularly for a thorough exam and professional teeth cleaning
Other steps you can take to maintain your dental health include:
- Enjoy a balanced diet and limit snacks between meals (especially sugary snacks)
- Don’t smoke; smoking poses a severe risk to both your oral health and general well-being
- Wear a properly fitting mouthguard when playing sports
- Brush only with a soft-bristled toothbrush unless otherwise recommended by your dentist
- Replace your toothbrush when the bristles begin to fray or every three months
Finally, get in touch with your dentist as soon as possible if oral health concerns such as bleeding gums or loose teeth arise, even if it’s not time for your regular checkup. The sooner dental health problems are addressed, the better for your overall well-being.
If you live in the Austin, Texas, area and it’s time for your routine checkup or you’d like to learn about your cosmetic dentistry options, please contact Dr. Dan Matthews online or call our dental office at 512-452-2273 to schedule your visit.