Taking good care of your teeth and gums does more than help ensure you have a bright, white smile. The phrase "healthy mouth, healthy you" really is true -- and backed by growing scientific evidence.
A healthy mouth and healthy body go hand in hand. Good oral hygiene can improve your overall health, reducing the risk of serious disease and perhaps even preserving your memory as you age.
It's never too early to start teaching your children to take care of their teeth and gums, since healthy habits learned in childhood can pay off in adulthood.
Here are six ways having healthy teeth and gums helps boost overall health:
- Boosts Your Self-esteem and Confidence: Decayed teeth and gum disease are often associated not only with an unsightly mouth but very bad breath -- so bad it can affect your confidence, self-image, and self-esteem. With a healthy mouth that's free of gum disease and cavities, your quality of life will improve. You’ll be able to eat properly, sleep better, and fullfill your daily commitments untroubled by aching teeth or mouth infections.
- May Lower Risk of Heart Disease: Chronic inflammation from gum disease has been associated with the development of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, blockages of blood vessels, and strokes. Studies suggest that maintaining oral health can help protect overall health.
- Preserves Your Memory: Adults with gingivitis (swollen, bleeding gums) performed worse on tests of memory and other cognitive skills than did those with healthier gums and mouths, according to a report in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. Individuals with gingivitis were more likely to perform poorly on two tests: delayed verbal recall and subtraction -- both skills used in everyday life.
- Reduces Risks of Infection and Inflammation in Your Body: Poor oral health has been linked with the development of infection in other parts of the body. Research has found an relationship between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints.
- Helps Keep Blood Sugar Stable if You Have Diabetes: People with uncontrolled diabetes often have gum disease, and may have less ability to fight off infections. Experts have found that if you have diabetes, you are more prone to develop severe gum problems than someone without diabetes. Reducing your risk of gingivitis by protecting your oral health may help with blood sugar control if you have diabetes.
- Helps Pregnant Women Carry a Baby to Term: Women may experience increased gingivitis during pregnancy. Some research suggests a relationship between gum disease and preterm, low birth weight infants. If you're pregnant, you should visit your dentist regularly. Consider it good practice for the role modeling that lies ahead for all new parents!
Eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly, and good oral hygiene helps reduce your risks of tooth decay and gum disease leading to a healthier mouth - and a healthier you!
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