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Your oral health affects your overall health and vice versa. Having good oral health makes it possible for you to:
Oral health greatly affects people’s self-confidence and quality of life.
If you do not practice good oral hygiene, you are at a higher risk of developing serious oral conditions and diseases. Poor oral hygiene can also affect your general health.
A healthy mouth is essential for a healthy body. Studies have found that oral diseases can impact chronic conditions.7
Here are six reasons why oral health is important:
Oral health and nutritional health have a bidirectional relationship.9 What you eat affects your oral health, and your oral health affects what you can eat.
For instance, eating too much sugar is associated with an increased risk of dental caries. Too much acidic food and soft drinks are associated with an increased risk of enamel erosion.7,9,10
Periodontal disease can worsen in people who are deficient in the following nutrients:9,10
These studies also show that the state of your oral health can affect the quality of food you consume. Partial or complete tooth loss is associated with poor dietary intake.
People suffering from tooth loss are more likely to eat foods rich in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and dietary cholesterol. This is linked to conditions like coronary heart disease and chronic kidney disease.10
Some researchers believe that smoking and an unhealthy diet link these two diseases. However, more researchers are growing to suspect periodontitis as an independent risk factor for heart disease.
They suspect that periodontitis increases inflammation in the body, which contributes to long-term inflammation and, eventually, leads to chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease.2
Researchers from UIC College of Dentistry found that exposure to periodontal disease bacteria in mice resulted in neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, and senile plaque formation.
These symptoms are similar to those found in people with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The study suggests that chronic oral bacterial infections, like periodontitis, could influence the development of Sporadic AD.7
Another study found that the inflammation caused by periodontitis triggers a secondary inflammatory response. This can lead to neurodegeneration and the progression of AD.11
Despite the numerous studies on periodontitis and AD, more research is needed to determine if there is a direct causal relationship between the two conditions.
Studies have found that periodontitis and diabetes have a two-way relationship. This means that gum disease can negatively impact diabetes and vice versa.
People with type II diabetes are three times more likely to develop dental problems than non-diabetic people. This is due to excess sugar in the blood leading to excess sugar in the saliva. It creates the perfect breeding ground for plaque and bacteria.12
Periodontitis can impair glycemic control, which is the blood sugar level in a person with diabetes. Studies also found that the severity of other symptoms of diabetes is correlated with the severity of periodontitis.4 These symptoms include:
Many oral conditions affect both children and adults. Some conditions are minor, while others can result in more serious oral health complications over time.
Common oral conditions include, but are not limited to:
If left untreated, some diseases can result in tooth loss or permanent damage to the teeth and/or the surrounding structures (e.g., the gums).
Common oral diseases include, but are not limited to:
Good oral health starts with proper dental care habits and awareness of daily behaviors. Brushing and flossing properly from a young age helps prevent oral diseases as you age.
Other factors that impact your oral health include:
Stay on top of basic oral care practices to reduce the chance of developing a minor or serious oral condition. This is what a good dental care routine looks like:
Brushing at least twice daily is one of the most important oral care habits because it keeps the teeth and mouth healthy. Fluoride-based toothpaste also stimulates the gums, which helps prevent gum disease and cavities.
Flossing your teeth properly every day reduces the chance of cavities forming between teeth. It removes plaque and food from places your toothbrush can’t reach.
Fluoride is a natural mineral found in soil and rocks that helps prevent cavities. Over the last 70 years, small amounts of fluoride have been added to dental materials to help strengthen tooth enamel.
The mineral is naturally present in some water supplies around the United States. Fluoride is also added to many municipal water sources with naturally low fluoride levels.
Whitening teeth doesn't have any oral health benefits, but it can positively impact your life. It can help increase your self-esteem, give you confidence, and get you to smile more.
Depending on your needs and the severity of your oral condition or disease, you can receive care from the following:
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