The Oral Systemic Connection

woman smiling

Research has shown that there are connections between oral health and overall health. Your body and your dental health influence each other, which is why it is so important to maintain a routine that keeps teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Oral health can play a role in the status of other diseases and conditions, including arthritis and diabetes.

Gum Health Influences Overall Health

Our mouths contain bacteria that form into plaque, a harmful film that sticks to teeth. When plaque calcifies, it hardens into a scaly substance called tartar. Plaque and tartar inflame the gums, allowing bacteria to gain access to spaces beneath the gum line. This condition can lead to the spread of infection to the tooth roots, the jaw bone, and the rest of the body.  

Oral Health and Disease

With advanced gum disease, there is the potential for problems to develop in other parts of the body. Bacteria circulate into the bloodstream and can contribute to other diseases, including:

  • Diabetes: Those with unhealthy gums are likely to have more difficulty managing their blood sugar levels.
  • Coronary Artery Disease: Gum infections canlead to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease: A possible increase in symptoms when gum disease is present.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Increased inflammation in the mouth can trigger inflammation in the rest of the body.

Tips for Maintaining Your Best Oral Health

Keeping your smile healthy all year round begins with a proactive at-home oral care regimen. Additionally, visiting the dentist twice a year can significantly decrease your risk of gum disease and the health conditions related to illness.

Brushing and flossing clean the mouth thoroughly by removing bacteria and plaque buildup from teeth. This routine can help to combat decay, gum disease, and bad breath. Consider these other tips to boost your oral health!

Brushing Teeth and Tongue

The right way to brush your teeth is to do so for at least two minutes, but no more than six. These two minutes ensures that each tooth has enough time to be thoroughly cleaned. Begin by angling your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gum line. Sweep against the surfaces of your teeth gently. Brushing the tongue removes bacteria or debris left from brushing teeth and keeps breath fresh. Some toothbrushes have a dedicated head just for brushing the tongue.

Flossing Everyday

You should floss at least once a day, but if you can floss more often than that, you can remove harmful debris stuck between teeth and gums. This is one of the direct ways to keep gums healthy and prevent the development of periodontal disease.

Use an 18-inch strand of floss and wind most of the floss around each middle finger. Leave an inch or two in between hands so that you can clean individual teeth. Gently curve the floss around each tooth and pull up to remove debris from the under the gum line. Use a new, clean section of floss for each tooth.

Healthy Habits

Eating a well-rounded diet filled with vegetables and fruits can fuel your smile with nutrients to keep it healthy. Celery and apples are great examples of textured foods that also clean the smile. Chewing these foods removes debris gently and promotes saliva production.

It is important to stop tobacco habits as it leads to oral cancer and susceptibility to gum disease and tooth loss. Whether chewing or smoking, consider altering these habits before they negatively impact the health of your smile and your body.

Visit the Dentist Twice a Year

Seeing the dentist twice a year permits a professional cleaning to remove hardened debris from under the gum line and a check on the overall health of your smile. Adding the tips described here can keep your smile healthy in between visits to the dental office.

Maintaining Dental and Overall Health

Good oral hygiene not only gives you a bright smile, but it also contributes to your overall health. If you experience bleeding while brushing your teeth or your gums are red and swollen, you could have the early stages of gum disease.

The negative effects of gum disease can be healed and prevented with good oral health habits. If bacteria have reached the roots of teeth, dental hygienists perform a procedure called root planing to heal the gums and prevent the spread of bacteria. Our dental professionals can remove plaque and tartar with special tools in a procedure called tooth scaling. Sometimes advanced gum disease is treated with surgical procedures where the dentist pulls the gums back to clean the deep pockets around teeth.

Not only does a beautiful smile depend on good dental hygiene, but your oral health is also intricately linked to your overall health. Fortunately, you can improve your health by taking good care of your teeth and gums, and it only takes a few minutes a day.