We all know what happens if you don’t brush or floss your teeth. You get cavities. But here’s a not-so-fun fact: not taking care of your teeth can cause several health problems, and not just in your mouth. By brushing and flossing, as well as visiting your dentist in Montrose at least twice a year, you can prevent oral health issues as well as general health issues.
How Does My Oral Health Affect My Overall Health?
Your mouth is home to lots of bacteria. Brushing and flossing every day can help keep them under control. However, not taking care of your teeth can cause the bacteria to spread to other areas of your body and cause inflammation and disease.
You are especially at risk if you have a condition that lowers your resistance to infection, such as HIV/AIDS or diabetes.
Certain medications can also put you more at risk for problems such as infection. Some – such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and painkillers – can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away traces of food that could cause bacteria to grow and spread disease.
What Can Happen If I Have Bad Oral Health?
Not taking care of your teeth can lead to all kinds of overall health issues, such as:
- Pregnancy complications. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Cardiovascular disease. Research has shown links between inflammation/infections caused by oral bacteria and clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke.
- Migraines. Gum disease can eventually lead to tooth loss. Missing teeth can give you an unbalanced bite, creating tension in your head. This can cause migraines. It’s a slippery slope of health issues.
Some health conditions can affect your oral health, which can in turn negatively impact other parts of your body in a vicious cycle. These include:
- Diabetes. It lowers your resistance to infection, increasing your chance of gum disease. People with gum disease often have a hard time managing their blood sugar. However, good oral hygiene can improve diabetes control.
- HIV/AIDS. Your immune system is already weakened, increasing the odds of oral infections.
- Alzheimer’s. As Alzheimer’s disease worsens, so does oral health in general.
- Osteoporosis. This condition causes bones to become brittle and weak. It can cause periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
How Can I Have Good Oral Health?
To protect your oral health, and by extension your overall health, practice good dental hygiene habits. These include:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
- Flossing daily.
- Abstaining from smoking.
- Replacing your toothbrush at least every three months.
- Seeing your dentist in Montrose at least twice a year for check-ups and cleanings.
- Eating a healthy diet with not too much sugar.
If you practice these habits, you should be perfectly fine. Taking care of your body starts with taking care of your teeth!
About the Author
Dr. Donald F. Tamborello is a Houston native who has been providing quality care at his practice for 32 years. He earned his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University and his dental degree from the University of Texas. He is passionate about helping patients improve their smiles and overcome their fear of dentistry. Contact him here for more information about maintaining proper oral health.