If you want to keep your good health, you can’t forget your teeth. Research shows links between having good oral health and good total health.
Your mouth shows many clues about your overall health. Trouble that starts in your mouth could be a sign of trouble somewhere else in your body.
Swelling and bacteria from bad gum disease can cause many other problems in your body. Studies link gum disease and other health issues, such as stroke, diabetes and pregnancy problems.
Back to Basics
Good routine care can help prevent gum disease, also called gingivitis. You may have gum disease if your gums are swollen and red. Gums that bleed when you floss or brush are a worry. Other signs of trouble are permanent teeth that are moving or loose.
It may start with simple swelling, but it can become serious and hurt the gums and bone.
Good oral health isn’t difficult. It often means brushing, flossing and seeing your dentist for checkups and cleaning. These simple guidelines support a healthy mouth:
- Brush at least two times each day.
- Use a toothpaste that has fluoride.
- Floss each day.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Avoid sticky, sugary snacks.
- Skip any kind of tobacco.
- Replace your tooth brush when it is frayed, or about every three months.
Related Health Problems
Some health problems may be linked to gum disease. The Mayo Clinic says poor oral health may add to an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Germs from some other parts of your body, such as infection in the mouth, can spread through your bloodstream and get to your heart. It can also be a factor in stroke and clogged arteries.
Also, the health of your mouth may suffer if you have other health issues. Diabetes can reduce your body’s resistance to infection and put your gums at risk. Osteoporosis makes bones weak and may cause tooth loss. And medications you take can impact your teeth.
Staying healthy is your top goal when you’re pregnant. But while you’re watching what you eat and drink during pregnancy, you might not be thinking about your teeth. Keeping your teeth strong and your mouth healthy helps both you and your baby.
Gum disease is very common, and it has been linked to early birth and low birth weight.
Pregnancy hormones may cause changes that make your gums more open to germs. But you can stop it with a good daily mouth care routine, says the American Dental Association.
To have a healthy mouth:
- Make your routine dental cleaning and exam visits before pregnancy, if possible. If you can, have dental X-rays or major work done before or after pregnancy. Tell your dentist if you are pregnant.
- Keep your teeth healthy by brushing at least twice a day and flossing each day.
Have calcium in your diet. And make sure you have protein, phosphorous and vitamins A, C and D. They help your baby’s teeth grow.
Visit your dentist soon.
Don’t take your teeth for granted. Keeping a healthy mouth may help you avoid other health problems down the road. If you can’t remember when you’ve been to the dentist, it’s likely time to call and make an appointment.
Sources: Oral Health: A Window to Your Overall Health, Mayo Clinic, 2016; Gingivitis, Your Baby’s First Dental Visit, Is it Safe to Go to the Dentist During Pregnancy? American Dental Association; Mouth and Teeth: How to Keep Them Healthy, American Academy of Family Physicians, 2017; Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy, KidsHealth, 2018