Maintaining good oral hygiene can definitely help protect a patient from gum disease, gingivitis, cavities, and other dental maladies. However, a growing body of evidence is beginning to show that the state of a patient’s mouth can have an effect on their body that goes beyond dental health.
The health of the mouth undoubtedly affects other areas of the body. In fact, studies have shown that the state of your oral health may contribute to the development heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and even sleep apnea. Some doctors have even referred to the mouth as the ‘gateway to health’. So how do we separate fact from fiction to determine the real impact oral health has on overall health?
First of all, impeccable oral health will by no means guarantee complete freedom from illness or disease over the course of one’s life. There are many other factors that contribute to diseases like heart diseases and diabetes; even the healthiest individual may be genetically predisposed to certain illnesses. So what can you do to ensure that you have the best possible chance of maintaining a lifetime of good health?
A healthy diet, moderate exercise and limitation of substances such as tobacco and alcohol are all controllable factors that will contribute to good health. In addition, maintaining good oral hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist for cleanings, check ups and cancer screenings should be viewed as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Your mouth normally contains plaque and bacteria. Regular brushing and flossing can help prevent plaque and bacteria from remaining in the mouth and from there entering the body. Gingivitis and gum disease can quickly develop in a mouth that is not being properly cleaned and cared for. Some research suggests that the plaque, bacteria and inflammation present in the mouths of patients can contribute to conditions such as stroke, clogged arteries and heart disease. More research is being done, but at any rate, it’s safe to assume that keeping the mouth clean and free of gum disease can only benefit a patient.
A common sense approach to oral health care, such as regularly brushing and flossing, as well as booking a dental appointment every six months is generally all that is needed to keep gingivitis, gum disease and cavities at bay. Doing so may even help protect the rest of your body from disease and ailments later in life.