July 11, 2018

Smiling woman at dentistThe link between dental health and overall health is obvious. Numerous studies prove the association between oral health and general well-being.

So the next time you brush your teeth, consider all the benefits involved. Taking care of your teeth and gums isn’t just related to your mouth – it also helps out your entire health profile.

Dr. Dental encourages all of our patients to pursue a healthy, well-disciplined oral health care regimen away from the dental chair. While visiting your dentist regularly is an important part of oral health, the actions taken at home – including regular brushing and flossing – have a greater impact on not just your oral health, but your total health!

We asked some oral healthcare professionals for their take on how dental health affects overall health. Here are some of their responses.

According to Dr. Omar Issa, President-Elect of the Texas Association of Orthodontists, jaw alignment is a key element of achieving optimal health. “When the jaw or teeth are severely misaligned, it can potentially interfere with eating, breathing, sleeping and speech, causing discomfort and pain, even when the jaw isn’t moving,” said Dr. Issa. “As far as overall health is concerned, not being able to chew properly can cause malnourishment and digestion issues. In order for your body to absorb the right nutrients, you must be able to chew your food properly.”

Dr. Susan Maples, DDS, has made the oral health / systemic health connection her career. Dr. Maples is the author of Blabber Mouth: 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You to Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life. Some of the health issues linked to poor oral health choices, include heart disease, cancer, and strokes. “Many people aren’t aware, but there’s a link between tooth decay and heart attacks. And since there are billions of bacteria in the mouth, bad oral hygiene causes inflammation that can spread to other parts of the body.” Her research concluded that other issues are related to suboptimal dental care, including stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications, respiratory disease, and depression.

From a social perspective, John Dougherty DDS, MAGD, notes the association between a healthy smile and overall health. “A healthy smile is not just good for your overall health—it is VITAL to your overall health,” said Dr. Dougherty. “Statistically, people with good smiles tend to find more success at their jobs, live longer and enjoy a better social life. And aside from the social benefits of having clean, straight teeth, people with healthy smiles, are—well—healthier. According to a Columbia University study, people who slack off on the teeth brushing are 70% more likely to get heart disease than those who brush twice a day. Poor dental hygiene can also lead to cavities and gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Both of these issues contribute to putting a lot of harmful bacteria in your mouth.”

So which foods can help achieve a healthy smile? Dr. Dougherty recommends strawberries, apples, cheese, carrots, celery, almonds, and other healthy snacks.

While the diet plays an important role in oral health (and overall health), the main reason for taking care of your teeth and gums simply has to do with limiting germs and bacteria. Maggie Berghoff, MSN, FNP-C, Evan J. Zimmerman, (Chairman and CEO of Brush Up Club), and Bryan Laskin, DDS all agree that dental health is directly related to gut health. “Bacteria in your mouth is then swallowed and goes right into your intestinal tract. It’s also absorbed by the mouth. This then allows bacterial overgrowth in the gut, which can lead to leaky gut, food intolerance, inflammation, and malnutrition,” said Dr. Berghoff.

We appreciate all the feedback from our respondents – as their testimonies show, it’s a good idea to take care of your teeth and gums. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, the oral healthcare professionals at Dr. Dental can help today. Schedule an appointment today, or visit one of our offices.

Thanks for visiting Dr. Dental!

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