It’s no big secret that a pearly white smile is attractive. What people might not know, however, is that bright white teeth do more than make a smile look good: they also provide dentists and oral health professionals with clues about your body’s overall well-being. The truth is, your oral health and overall health share a pretty significant link. That’s why it’s important to practice good dental health awareness.
So what is oral health, exactly? It’s the processes involved with keeping your teeth, gums and mouth tissue healthy. Dental health awareness – things like noticing teeth discoloration or keeping track of sensitive areas, and then reporting your findings to a dentist – may help you prevent a slew of different diseases. Because when it comes to your teeth and health problems, one might just tip you off to the other. You might be amazed at what your teeth can tell you.
Diabetes: There is a direct connection between your teeth and health problems caused by sugars, and cavities might only be the symptoms. Inflammation in the mouth decreases your body’s ability to process insulin. If you suffer from inflamed gums, it might be a sign of diabetes.
Heart Disease: Gum inflammation strikes again! Studies show that up to 91% of patients with some type of cardiovascular problems suffer from periodontitis (the medical term for severe gum disease). Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss, which can breed infections in the mouth. Once again, your oral health and overall health are linked: severe gum infections are usually found in patients with clogged arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Alzheimer’s: Dentists and researchers are still unsure about the correlation between poor oral health and Alzheimer’s, but they know that there is one. Tooth loss before the age of 35 may indicate a propensity for Alzheimer’s later in life, so increasing your dental health awareness now may play a pivotal role later in life.
Low Birth Weight: There is a connection between a mother’s teeth and health problems like low birth weight and premature birth. Premature birth can cause a baby’s lungs or heart to be underdeveloped, and some studies document premature birth and low birth weights to developmental disorders.
Cancer: Perhaps the most serious connection between your teeth and health problems is the discovery of cancer. Smoking causes tooth discoloration; too many sugars lead to obesity or even diabetes. But dental health awareness might also clue you in to the development of cancerous cells in your body: bleeding gums, excessive cavities or lesions in your mouth may all be directly linked to some form of cancer. So even if you refrain from lifestyle choices that might put you at risk, your teeth and severe health problems are still connected.
Oral Health and Overall Health
Good dental health awareness is the key to keeping your teeth – and maybe even to saving your life. So how can you keep strong teeth AND keep health problems at bay? Simple.
· Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
· Floss every day.
· See your dentist regularly.
· Keep an eye on your diet.
· Quit smoking.
· Replace your toothbrush regularly (3-4 times a year is best).
· Practice good dental health awareness by noting any changes in your gums or mouth, and contacting a dentist to discuss them.
By following the “rules,” your mouth will stay healthy – and the rest of your body should too.
Dr. Goldberg received his D.D.S. from University of Maryland at Baltimore. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the New Jersey Dental Association, the Jersey Coast Dental Forum, and the Seattle Study Club. His pursuit of continuing education annually exceeds state requirements including the Mid-Atlantic Dental Implant Center and a 2003-2004 Residency in Implant Prosthetics. Howell Dental Associates
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