It may surprise many people, but oral health has a huge bearing on your whole-body health. While many people think, “My teeth don’t hurt, why bother going to the dentist?” you are doing yourself a disservice with that attitude.
Routine checkups should be as much a part of your life as regular checkups from your medical doctor. Maintaining your teeth is also a cheaper alternative than repairing them later.
There have been documented studies that show a correlation between better oral health and lower insurance costs and employee sick time loss.
Many people experience dental anxiety and even dental phobia. If this is why you avoid regular dental appointments, it’s time to conquer that fear. Work with Your Caring Dentist to develop a plan that will ease your anxiety.
Your mouth is a literal window into the overall health of your body.
Why Basic Dental Hygiene Isn’t Enough
Are you in the group of people that thinks if you brush and floss regularly, you don’t need the dentist? A surprisingly large number of people are.
But the facts tell a different story.
You can care for your teeth, but having your mouth checked regularly by a dental professional is essential.
Seemingly harmless things like over-the-counter medications for sinus problems can cause an increase in the bacteria level in your mouth. That makes your entire body more susceptible to infection and lowers your immune system response.
Dental Health Is Important to Your Whole-Body Well-Being
There are many ways to protect your oral health.
The things you always hear:
- Brush at least twice daily
- Use a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss at least once daily
- Eat a healthy diet
- Limit snacks between meals
- Replace your toothbrush quarterly (every three months)
- Avoid tobacco products
- Get regular dental checkups/cleanings
Although you may be performing all the right tasks to maintain your oral health, you need to do more. Visiting your dentist twice a year will ensure that you remain healthy beyond having just a great smile.
What a Tale Your Spit Can Tell…
When you were a kid, you undoubtedly got punished at some point for spitting on your cousin.
But did you know that your saliva can tell a lot about your overall health?
From infants to senior citizens, doctors can observe and diagnose several vital health stats from the bacteria in your saliva. Relax – it isn’t all nasty, bad bacteria. Some of the germs in your mouth have vital roles in your health.
Here’s the truth:
Doctors can examine cortisol levels in newborns to check for stress responses. The presence of some proteins in saliva can be useful in monitoring bone loss to detect osteoporosis. There are even a few cancer markers that can be present, giving doctors a head start to diagnosis and treatment.
As a diagnostic tool, saliva can be used to detect illegal drugs and hormone levels. Some home-use test kits can aid in detecting the presence of antibodies that can indicate HIV infection and hepatitis. Doctors can also identify potential environmental toxins.
Saliva may eventually replace blood tests for detecting such diseases as cirrhosis of the liver, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and a long list of other infectious and genetic diseases.
Saliva is your knight in slimy armor
While saliva is gross and disgusting to most people, it’s one of your body’s first lines of defense against many attackers.
Saliva contains natural antibodies protecting us against things like the common cold and even HIV.
Naturally occurring fungus, Candida albicans, is left to grow uninhibited without histatins contained in saliva. Histatins are proteins. In a weakened immune system with low levels of histatins, candida can develop rapidly, causing the fungal infection oral thrush.
Your Dentist Might Provide an Early Diagnosis for Serious Health Issues
Periodontal disease can cause low birth weight and premature birth in pregnant women. If you are currently pregnant or considering childbirth, seeing your dentist should be the first step to ensure a healthy delivery.
Oral health conditions may worsen the severity of other health problems such as diabetes. Gum disease makes it more difficult to control blood sugar levels, and regular dental care can help improve this problem.
Osteoporosis, or loss of bone density, may also be linked to tooth loss and periodontal bone loss.
And some health conditions and diseases that are affected by oral health are endocarditis and cardiovascular disease. Both heart-related, these problems are worsened with poor oral hygiene.
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative neurological breakdown, sometimes equated with dementia in older adults. Because Alzheimer’s disrupts thought processes, regular routines such as dental hygiene, often fall by the wayside.
Worsening oral health is often the first sign that is noticeable in diagnosing this serious disease.
Conditions also linked to oral health are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Head and neck cancers
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Eating disorders
Because of these potential tie-ins to your overall health, the Mayo Clinic warns that you should keep your dentist advised of any medications you are taking, including prescriptions and over-the-counter.
Based on a study by UnitedHealthCare, maintaining good oral health can also reduce costs related to medical care for employers. By reducing dental problems, overall employee health increased while healthcare costs decreased:
“The research showed that people with certain chronic conditions who received appropriate dental care, including preventive services and the treatment of gum disease, had net medical and dental claims that were on average $1,038 lower per year than claims for chronically ill people who did not receive that type of oral care.”
The Importance of Regular Checkups
Everything in our mouth connects to our overall health. Because of this fact, the importance of maintaining regular dental checkups can’t be over-stressed.
With your dentist, develop a plan that will be affordable and meet your dental needs.
At first, that may be several appointments to work on problem areas and correct past issues. Ultimately, you should settle into a schedule of at least two visits per year for cleanings and checkups.
Scheduling routine checkups
Your Caring Dentist Group schedules appointments in advance, sometimes several months into the future. It’s often possible to set up your routine checkups during your current appointment.
Many of us aren’t calendar-adept enough to work so far into the future. If you are one of these, check with the office about reminder postcards, emails, and possibly text messages.
Since our brains all work differently, your dental professional usually has several methods in place to make sure that your dental health is maintained. Select a plan that fits with your usual scheduling method.
Follow-up appointments and procedures
When you have dental work performed, there are often follow-up appointments set for the completion of the initial work.
These are important.
Your dentist uses these appointments to make sure that no further issues arise. If you have a follow-up appointment, make sure that you go.
We can look in our mouths all day and think things look fine, but your dentist may be able to spot something we would miss. Catching small things before they become big things avoids a lot of problems.
Diet and Other Healthy Habits
We all know about regular brushing and flossing to keep our teeth healthy. Between dental visits, there are several things you can do to help your dentist help you.
The first thing you can do is to eat healthy foods. A small adjustment in your diet can do wonders for oral health.
For instance, drinking soda is known to accelerate cavity growth. Sugary candy and other foods also work to speed up tooth decay. Cutting down on soda and sugary drink intake and limiting sweets will contribute to your whole-body health.
Altering your diet and changing the types of foods you eat will work double duty. Not only will it slow down tooth decay, but your body will love you for it. Talk to your dental professional about the right foods to eat to promote oral health.
Maintaining a healthy diet gives your body and teeth the needed nutrients to stay active and healthy.
Healthy Teeth Means a Healthy You
As you can see, good oral health, a better diet, and regular checkups all combine for a healthier you!
Making regular appointments, brushing, flossing, and taking good care of your oral health is essential. Being aware of the significant role that your mouth plays in overall health is the beginning of a better, genuine smile.
Follow through with after-care and the treatment plans outlined by your dentist.
And make an appointment today with Your Caring Dentist Group in Fremont, CA. We’ll treat you like the celebrity that you are.
Please leave us a comment below. We want to hear from you. What things are you doing at home to improve your smile?