Good Oral Health Reflects Good Overall Health

It is said that you are what you eat. This is very true since dental health can reveal a lot about a person’s overall health. Further everything humans consume goes in mouth first.

Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums is a worthy goal in and of itself. Good oral and dental hygiene can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease—and can help you keep your teeth as you get older.

Researchers are also discovering new reasons to brush and floss. A healthy mouth may help you ward off medical disorders. The flip side? An unhealthy mouth, especially if you have gum disease, may increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes and preterm labor.

The case for good oral hygiene keeps getting stronger. Understand the importance of oral health — and its connection to your overall health.

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Indeed there is a connection between oral health and other body health issues. One good example is the connection between dental health and heart disease. Research has proven that persons suffering from periodontal disease are more prone to heart disease as compared to those with healthy gums. Therefore dental health can be used to tell whether the heart is in a healthy condition or not.

Many of the risk factors for gum disease are the same as those for heart disease, such as tobacco use, poor nutrition and diabetes. Overall, people who have chronic gum disease are at higher risk for a heart attack, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Gum disease (called gingivitis in its early stages and periodontal disease in the late stages) is caused by plaque buildup along and below the gum line. Some researchers have suggested that gum disease may contribute to heart disease because bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream, attach to blood vessels and increase clot formation. It has also been suggested that inflammation caused by gum disease may also trigger clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart, thereby causing an elevation in blood pressure and increasing the risk of a heart attack.

Research shows that many systemic diseases – including heart disease – have oral symptoms. Dentists can help patients who have a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. According to the AGD, proper diagnosis and treatment of tooth and gum infections in some of these patients have led to a decrease in blood pressure medications and improved overall health. If you currently have heart disease, make sure to tell your dentist about your condition as well as any medications you are currently taking. Remember to carefully follow your physician’s and dentist’s instructions about health care, and use any prescription medications, such as antibiotics, as directed.

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It is very important for one to be able to know the signs of poor dental care so that they can take the necessary action. This is due to the fact that poor dental health care poses a great health risk.

Ulcers, sores, or tender areas in your mouth can indicate a number of health conditions. Some of these conditions can affect more than just your teeth and gums.

For example, mouth wounds that don’t heal can sometimes indicate diabetes. People with diabetes have a more difficult time healing than those who don’t have diabetes.

If you have a wound in your mouth that doesn’t become smaller or less painful in a week or two, make an appointment to see your dentist and your primary care doctor. You may need to have your blood sugar levels checked to ensure they aren’t too high.

Spots or sores in the mouth can appear as white areas called leukoplakia or as red lesion called erythroplakia. In more serious cases, these lesions may be linked to oral cancers.

Additional symptoms include:

  • ear pain
  • hoarseness
  • jaw swelling
  • numbness in the tongue or throat area
  • trouble moving the jaw or tongue
  • trouble swallowing

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Good dental health is not only achieved by good brushing after every meal. There are other contributing factors as well. Just as food choice can deteriorate dental health the same can improve dental health.

Apples, carrots and celery

These snacks aren’t known as dental detergents for nothing. Crunchy fruits and vegetables increase the flow of cleansing saliva, giving your mouth a fresh feeling.  Just be sure the fruits you choose between meals aren’t high in acid; they can be hard on your tooth enamel.

Cheese or milk

Acid from the foods we eat can eat away at our teeth. But many dairy products can actually reduce the acid in your mouth. And a glass of milk or a piece of cheese is filling. “It satisfies you as far as hunger goes, and sugar found in milk doesn’t contribute to tooth decay,” says Dr. Ron Smith, president of the Canadian Dental Association and a practicing dentist in Duncan, B.C.

Raw onion

Try a slice or two of fresh onion on your sandwich. Research at a Korean University showed that raw onions have powerful antibacterial properties. In an experiment, onions wiped out four strains of bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. Of course, after eating raw onions you may end up with killer breath!

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