Let’s face it, we could all be taking better care of our teeth. If you’re like me, you probably forget to floss every once in a while. Maybe you’ve skipped brushing in the morning so you could get to work on time. Maybe you go for a soda instead of water when you go out to eat. Maybe you’ve got a sweet tooth that keeps you coming back to the candy bowl.
It’s easy to say that you’ll brush and floss daily, but people aren’t perfect. However, keeping your chompers clean means more than just looking nice – good dental health can actually lower your risk of contracting diabetes, heart disease, or even having a stroke. Since February is Children’s Dental Health month, we wanted to spread the word about some of the wider impacts of oral health.
Why Oral Health Matters
The human mouth is a disgusting place. There are around 600 different species of bacteria in our mouths at any given time, but luckily, most of them are harmless. The few types of bad bacteria in mouths are normally taken care of by regular oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing, but if they’re left in your mouth and able to multiply, they can stack up to bad breath, tooth decay, inflammation, and gum disease, which is the real threat to the rest of your body.
Our gums are very vascular – that means that they have a higher concentration of blood vessels compared to other parts of the body. When your gums are inflamed and diseased, it’s much easier for them to start bleeding, which gives all of the bacteria in your mouth an express ticket throughout the rest of your body.
Many people have only learned about undiagnosed pre-diabetes or diabetes after a dentist noticed that their teeth were unhealthy.
Dental Health and Heart Disease
According to the Mayo Clinic, the same bacteria that can cause gum disease can also infect the soft tissues within your heart if they are damaged, which can cause a heart condition called endocarditis. The natural clotting process that occurs when your gums heal after they bleed can also contribute to heart problems like clogged arteries, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, since an increase in blood clots from healing wounds mean an increasing number of chances for those clots to break loose and get stuck in your arteries.
When bad bacteria enter your bloodstream from your mouth, your immune system has to work overtime to combat the new intruders, which can lead to increased stress, fatigue, slower healing, and an increase in risk of contracting other diseases and illnesses due to your weakened immune system.
Dental Health and Diabetes
Many scientists have also studied the connection between gum disease and diabetes. Since the bacteria that cause gum disease thrive by eating starch and sugar, advanced staged of gum disease can often be an indicator of diabetes. In fact, many people have only learned about undiagnosed pre-diabetes or diabetes after a dentist noticed that their teeth were unhealthy.
All of these diseases that oral unhealthiness contributes to have marked impacts on life expectancy, and can make your life much more difficult in the long run. They even have an effect on life insurance rates, since a person with cardiac and circulatory problems is much more likely to pass away early.
The Bottom Line
Brushing and flossing doesn’t just brighten your smile and freshen your breath, it can also keep you healthy and increase your lifespan. Developing healthy oral care habits may take a while, but in the long run, it’ll almost definitely pay off for your heart. As far as oral health is concerned, not losing your teeth is just a bonus.
Photo credit to ND Strupler
About the writer
Eric moved from sales to communications at Quotacy. His writing is informed by his experience guiding hundreds of people through their own life insurance buying journey. Eric lives in Minneapolis, where his coworkers are trying to convince him to start his own podcast, do stand-up, or take his humor into the spotlight. Connect with him on LinkedIn.