man examining a persons mouth with dental tool

A Startling Fact About Dental Hygiene and Protecting Your Overall Health

Oral hygiene does more than give you a pretty smile and fresh breath. Healthy teeth and gums can help prevent many serious health issues like diabetes and heart conditions.

Many doctors are referring patients to gum specialists these days because your mouth reveals a lot about your body. For example, more than 90% of people with heart conditions also have gum infections and inflammation called periodontitis.

See why it’s so important to keep your mouth in top shape.

Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

  1. Take care of your heart. The bacteria in your mouth can travel through your bloodstream to your heart. Keeping your gums free of inflammation lowers your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  2. Manage diabetes. The link between diabetes and periodontitis is especially strong. Inflammation interferes with your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, and high blood sugar encourages inflammation.
  3. Reduce respiratory infections. It’s a short path from your mouth to your lungs. Eliminating mouth bacteria makes pneumonia and other infections less likely.
  4. Strengthen your bones. Sturdy teeth, bones, and joints go together. A nutritious diet fights cavities, osteoporosis, and arthritis.
  5. Sharpen your thinking. Studies show that people with sturdy gums score higher on tests for cognitive skills. Beef up your memory by brushing your teeth. You may even stave off dementia and enjoy your golden years more.
  6. Have a healthy baby. Poor dental care has also been linked to premature labor and lower birth weight. Schedule dental checkups as part of your prenatal care.

How to Practice Good Oral Hygiene

photo of a mother brushing her teeth with her baby
  1. Upgrade your brushing skills. Most experts recommend brushing 2 or 3 times a day. Aim for 2 minutes for each session so you cover all surfaces. Try starting in a different section of your mouth each time to make it more interesting.
  2. Use fluoride toothpaste. You probably see all kinds of products on your drugstore shelves, but ordinary fluoride toothpaste tends to be the most effective at fighting cavities. It’s also gentler than whitening formulas.
  3. Replace your toothbrush. Dentists suggest buying a new toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. Soft bristles and a comfortable size may also help you to brush well.
  4. Floss daily. Flossing is another daily requirement. If you have difficulty getting between tight teeth or dental work, try waxed floss. Follow up with an antimicrobial mouthwash for extra protection.
  5. Rinse frequently. Maybe you reach for your toothbrush immediately after consuming a sticky sweet. Rinsing with plain water is a safer option. Hold off on brushing for at least a couple hours after eating so your enamel has a chance to harden.
  6. Select foods carefully. Sugary and acidic foods wear down your teeth faster. It’s another good reason to limit the empty calories contained in candy, cookies, and soft drinks. Keep in mind that even some relatively healthy items can be hard on your teeth. That includes fruit juices and white wine.
  7. Quit smoking. Using tobacco irritates the tissue in your mouth. It can also speed up tooth loss and cause certain cancers. Many people require more than one attempt to quit successfully so keep trying. Combining several methods may help you to become permanently smoke-free.
  8. See your dentist. More than 90% of systemic conditions like diabetes produce oral symptoms. In addition to teaching you how to care for your teeth and gums, your dentist can help identify issues that need prompt medical treatment.

Brush, floss, and visit your dentist at least twice a year. What’s good for your teeth and gums is good for your whole body. You’ll be protecting your smile and overall health.

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