October 6, 2018
You hear a lot these days about eating right and exercising. But did you know that dental hygiene plays a role in protecting your entire body? Here are some timely tips on this topic, brought to you for Dental Hygiene Awareness Month.
Dental Hygiene and Overall Health: the Intriguing Link
Research reveals at least five ways that the condition of your teeth and gums correlates with your overall health:
- People with poorly managed diabetes often suffer from tooth decay and gum disease. Doctors believe that the two conditions directly influence each other. For example, uncontrolled diabetes can make your body less able to fight off infection, which in turn exposes your teeth and gums to decay-causing bacteria.
- Pregnant women who suffer from gum disease are more likely to give birth to preterm babies, according to some studies. Women who are carrying children should see their dentist as well as their regular physician.
- People with dental health issues are at special risk for heart disease or stroke. Some experts believe that the inflammation associated with tooth decay and gum disease plays a causal role in cardiovascular problems.
- A report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry found a link between gingivitis and impaired cognitive abilities. Patients with gingivitis took longer to recall words and complete basic arithmetic problems than others.
- Both rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease are inflammatory conditions. Some authorities believe that infection and inflammation can spread from your mouth to cause problems throughout your system.
A Healthy Mouth Equals a Healthy Body and Mind
Doctors have long known that the body works as a unified whole. Problems in one area, such as the teeth and gums, can cause trouble elsewhere. This is all the more reason to make good dental hygiene part of your comprehensive healthcare strategy. All of us should cultivate the following important habits:
- Brushing at least twice a day. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste approved by the ADA. Your dentist may recommend a particular brand for your use.
- Flossing at least once per day. Floss string comes in various widths and in both waxed and un-waxed versions. You can even find flavored versions.
- Eating a sensible diet. Most of us know we should limit our consumption of sugar. But a growing body of evidence indicates that simple starches are also harmful to your teeth. Lean protein, raw fruits and vegetables, reduced-fat dairy products and whole grains are the foundation of good nutrition.
- Avoiding tobacco in all forms. Not only can smoking threaten your lungs, it also has devastating effect on your teeth and gums. Your dentist can prescribe medications that will help you kick the habit.
- Limiting consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol can erode the protective enamel around your teeth. It can also rob your system of important nutrients needed to keep your teeth strong.
- Seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. This is important for catching problems they become serious.
Make autumn 2018 your time for enjoying better health. Follow the tips outlined in this post and you’ll soon have extra reason to smile.
About the Author
Dr. J Benjamin Patrick has been serving the people of Athens and Clarke County for nearly 40 years. Dr. Patrick holds a DMD degree from the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry and is a proud member of the American Dental Association. You can reach his office online or by calling (706) 546-8720.
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