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What’s the Connection? Oral and Overall Health

You probably know that practicing oral hygiene plays a big part in your oral health, but did you know that taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums can also make a difference in your overall health? And vice versa?

When it comes to the connection between the mouth and the body, we are talking about the entire system of organs and tissues that work together to keep us healthy. The mouth is an important part of this system. It has many functions, including:

  • Stimulating salivary glands for proper digestion
  • Protecting against bacteria and viruses by providing a barrier against infection
  • Producing saliva, which helps with food processing and teeth cleaning
  • Supporting the immune system by producing antibodies and white blood cells
  • Helping to maintain good dental health by keeping teeth clean and preventing cavities
  • Providing nutrients and oxygen to other parts of the body through the bloodstream

As you can see, the mouth plays a vital role in overall health. So, when the mouth isn’t healthy, the body isn’t either.

This connection is known as the oral-systemic link, and it works both ways. When there’s inflammation or disease in the body, it affects the mouth. This includes the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, stomach and intestines.

In fact, some studies have shown that poor oral health may be linked to conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, obesity and even cancer.

Alzheimer’s disease has also been linked to gum infections.

Signs of Poor Oral Health

There are several signs that you’re not doing enough to take care of your mouth. If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to us! We will be able to help you identify what’s going on and recommend treatment options. These signs include:

Bad breath. Bad breath can indicate health issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, dry mouth or sinus infections.

Swollen gums. Gum swelling occurs when plaque builds up on the surface of your teeth. As plaque hardens, it creates plaque buildup, which causes the gums to swell. Gum disease has also been linked to low birth weight in babies, some cancers and other chronic illnesses.

Tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity means that your nerves are exposed to too much heat or cold. Your teeth will experience sensitivity if they’ve been damaged from decay or trauma.

Redness. Redness indicates inflammation and can be a sign of illness or infection.

Gum recession. Receding gums occur when the soft tissue around the teeth begins to pull away from them, exposing more bone beneath the gum line. This exposes more root structure, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the roots of the teeth.

Tooth decay. Decay happens when harmful bacteria get into the spaces between the teeth, causing cavities. Cavities weaken the enamel layer of the teeth, making them susceptible to damage.

Lips that crack easily. Dry lips can lead to cracking, peeling and bleeding. This can happen because of lack of moisture or  dehydration.

Frequent headaches. Headaches can be caused by TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder.

Other signs to look out for include:

  • Tooth loss
  • Swollen gum tissue
  • Tender gums
  • White spots on the tongue
  • Yellowed teeth

If you’ve been neglecting your oral hygiene, don’t worry. There are things you can do to improve your oral health and therefore your overall health. Talk to us today!

Oral Hygiene Tips

1. Brush twice daily, morning and night, using fluoride toothpaste. Brushing helps remove food particles and debris from between your teeth and along the gum line. It also helps prevent bad breath.

2. Floss once per day. Flossing removes plaque and food debris from between your tooth surfaces.

3. Avoid sticky foods like candy and chewing gum. Or try candies and gum made with Xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener found in many fruits and vegetables. It helps reduce bad breath and cavity formation.

4. Rinse your mouth after brushing and flossing to remove any food particles left behind.

5. Use an interdental cleaner, such as a Water Pik. An interdental brush cleans between the teeth and under the gum line.

6. Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. A professional cleaning at least twice a year can keep your mouth healthy.

7. Don’t smoke or chew tobacco. Tobacco use puts your at risk for serious diseases including cancer, heart disease and stroke, as well as oral diseases.

8. Limit alcohol consumption. Alcoholic beverages contain acids that erode tooth enamel.

9. Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients, fiber and minerals. Foods high in calcium help build strong bones and teeth.

10. Drink plenty of water each day. Drinking enough fluids helps flush out toxins and keeps your body hydrated.

11. Get regular dental exams and routine checkups. Regular visits to your dentist allow him or her to monitor your oral health and provide preventive care.

12. Be sure to ask any questions about oral hygiene before starting a new treatment plan. You may want to talk to us about:

  • how often you should visit the dentist’s office
  • what products we recommend for your oral hygiene
  • whether there are other ways to maintain good oral health for overall health
  • if you have any concerns about your oral health

13. If you’re concerned about your oral hygiene habits, schedule a consultation so we can discuss options for improving your oral health.

Remember, proper oral hygiene is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums and overall health. Schedule your next dental care checkup at Miami Designer Smiles today!