Research now shows a healthy mouth and healthy body go hand in hand. It’s a new world when it comes to good oral hygiene and good oral health. We benefit because this double-barrel effort can improve overall health–reducing the risk of serious disease and perhaps even preserving memory in later years. The phrase “healthy mouth, healthy you” really is true–and backed by growing scientific evidence.
The Magic Six
1. It’s never too early to start teaching your children to take care of teeth and gums. Healthy habits learned in childhood can pay off in adulthood. And, if you’re tempted to shrug off brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist regularly, remember you’re a role model for your kids.
2. Decayed teeth and gum disease are often associated not only with an unsightly mouth but unpleasant bad breath–so bad it can affect confidence, self-image and self-esteem. With a healthy mouth free of gum disease and cavities, quality of life also is bound to be better as we eat properly, sleep better, and concentrate with no distractions from aching teeth.
3. Chronic inflammation from gum disease has been associated with development of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, blocked blood vessels and strokes.
4. Findings of studies suggest that maintaining oral health can help protect overall health, such as when adults with gingivitis (swollen, bleeding gums) performed worse on tests of memory and other cognitive skills than those with healthier gums.
5. Poor oral health has been linked with the development of infection in other parts of the body. In one study, poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease was associated with the development of pneumonia on older people. Bacteria in the mouth can travel into the lungs, causing infection or make lung conditions worse.
6. Other research has found an association between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints.
Eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly, and good oral hygiene helps reduce risks of tooth decay and gum disease. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss once a day.