Sometimes, people just focus on the obvious. But when you look closer, you begin to unravel hidden facets of the truth. That is the case with overall health and oral health. Most Americans don’t think oral health is as important as overall wellness. What they don’t know is that it’s an integral part of the whole, a key to making everything right.
That’s what the Harris Poll showed. The poll, done by The American Osteopathic Association, revealed that many Americans prioritize their overall wellness. According to the survey, 71% of Americans believe they have good overall health, while a measly 17% stated theirs to be excellent. It seems fair enough. It sure shows how health-conscious Americans are. They put a premium on diet, exercise, and rest. But there’s one exception.
Very few cared about oral health. Even parents think oral health is a medical visit for kids. Another study showed that about 84.9% of children go for dental visits, but only 64.9% of adults do. And these adult visits are not by choice — most are due to intolerable dental issues that are already affecting their ability to continue their normal routines.
Mouth health, however, shouldn’t be treated lightly. Dental practitioners show that it’s as much a part of achieving good health as all the other health practices. And ignoring it is tantamount to ignoring your own physical fitness.
Relationship Between Oral Health and Overall Health
Over the years, many studies on oral health have come out, from common oral problems to overall oral health. New findings have surfaced from these research efforts, causing medical experts to conclude that oral health has a role to play in overall health. That’s how the body works. In the same way that a headache can affect the rest of the body or the blood and lymphatic system connects organs and bodily systems, a toothache or gum disease can have severe consequences elsewhere in your body.
Studies showing the relationship between gum disease and heart disease confirm this interconnectedness. It’s mind blowing but it’s true. One study done at Harvard detailed how the plaque in your teeth can affect the plaque in your arteries. People who have periodontal disease or gum disease have two to three times the risk of a heart attack and other life-threatening cardiovascular events. Worrying, right? The Harvard study also showed that not having gum disease reduces the risk of heart complications.
Another study showed gum disease can lead to stroke. How so? When a person has gum disease, bacteria proliferate in the mouth. Those bacteria can travel from the mouth to other parts of the body courtesy of bleeding gums. When this happens, they accumulate in the arteries, leading to clogged arteries. Consequently, a patient can develop a stroke.
A third study showed a link between gum disease and cognitive ability or the mental capacity of man. And once again, this has something to do with the spread of bacteria from the mouth to other parts of the body. So, think about how your food moves from your mouth to your digestive system and other parts, potentially carrying with it blood containing bacteria.
Giving Your Mouth More Attention
Now that you know that mouth health affects overall health, you should not take things for granted. Certainly, it’s time you pay more attention to your oral health. Take note, however, that oral health is not just about having a nice smile and clean teeth.
For starters, you should pay your dentist a visit. He will be able to show you the state of your teeth. More than that, he can prescribe treatment. Children may not need so much treatment as most of their teeth complications are benign. Adults, however, are a different story altogether.
The good news is there is an array of fixes for your teeth. You can have long-term tooth replacement for natural teeth that are permanently damaged. You can have dental surgery done in a matter of hours if you don’t want a long downtime. And that can spell tons of benefits for you. That means you can walk out of the dentist’s clinic with confidence with those pearly whites.
Prevention is Better than Cure
But the best way to attain oral health is by giving your mouth the care it needs every day. That way, visiting the dentist should only be for regular maintenance and not for major treatments like a root canal or tooth replacement.
How do you improve oral health on a daily basis? The answer is quite simple. The problem with adults is we forget to make it a habit. This means you have to be very intentional about improving mouth health. Let’s repeat everything you were taught before:
- Brush at least twice daily. Take at least 2 minutes to brush, and make sure you use fluoride toothpaste.
- Change your toothbrush every 3 months (4 times a year).
- Eat healthily. Opt for foods rich in calcium such as milk, cheese, meat, and also vegetables and fruits rich in Vitamin C.
- Limit alcohol intake and stop smoking. Drink water after consuming beverages that may stain your teeth.
- Have regular dental checkups at least twice every year.
The formula is simple for preventing gum diseases and tooth decay, so there’s no need to be afraid. If you have good teeth and maintaining your mouth health, smile. Show the world that you’ve found another way to ensure your overall health: perfectly healthy teeth and gums.