Good dental health and overall health are linked. There is no two ways about it. If you have an unhealthy mouth, chances are your body is not healthy either. Why? Well, every part of the body is interconnected. So, when you think about your health, don’t just think about blood, heart, lungs, etc. think about your oral health as well.
Dental hygiene affects your health in many ways. Poor dental hygiene often results in poor health, whereas good dental hygiene helps you stay on the road to good health. Let’s look at some examples:
Your mouth has tons of bacteria growing and living in it. This is fact, and can’t be avoided, but it can be better controlled. However, these bacteria are only kept under control by daily hygiene practices. So, how does good dental hygiene’s affect on control of bacteria affect your health? Well, as the plaque and tartar build up, and take over the mouth, they find their way into the blood stream. Your blood travels all throughout your body, so this can be detrimental to a person’s overall health. When infections or bacteria in the mouth enter the blood stream, they can start to attack arteries. In fact, they often attack the heart. It has been shown through many studies that people with poor oral health, and those who practice poor dental hygiene are more at risk for heart disease, stroke, and heart attack than those who take good care of their mouth and practice impeccable dental hygiene.
Dental hygiene does not only affect your health, but if you are pregnant, the dental hygiene your practice can also affect the health of your unborn baby. It is very important for women in childbearing years to be vigilant about keeping good oral health. Many studies have shown that premature birth is often connected to the mother having gum disease. Good dental hygiene almost always eliminates gum disease, and thus greatly reduces your risks of having a baby prematurely. The infection and bacteria caused by poor oral hygiene will lead to gum disease and can end up affecting the development of an unborn child. Although women who are pregnant should not undergo all dental procedures, regular check-ups and cleanings should be maintained, and are important to the health of your fetus.
How else does dental hygiene affect your health? Well, on a more basic level, good oral health means less pain for you to suffer. Pain in your mouth is caused by tooth decay and gum irritation. If you brush and floss properly each day, your gums will be healthy and strong, you will maintain your teeth, and you will have far less decay that leads to cavities. In essence, if you maintain good oral and dental hygiene, you will not have to suffer the pain and stress of trips to the dentist’s office.
Another way good dental hygiene and oral health are connected is in nutrition. Part of keeping a healthy mouth is eating right. Eating the right way means less cavities, it also means your body has the nutrients it needs to fight off infections and disease, including gum disease.
People who develop and maintain good dental hygiene habits are likely to have good overall hygiene habits that affect their general health. If you wash your hands regularly, shower, clean yourself, etc. you are less likely to get sick, and more likely to live a healthy happy life. So, brush, floss, see your dentist regularly, and remember good dental health means more than an attractive smile, it means health and vitality.
Dr. Benjamin Ganjian, DDS, is a leading dentist in New York.