Thursday, June 20, 2013

Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body

Did you know, that in taking just a few minutes, each day, to care for your mouth can help 
you establish healthy habits that will last a lifetime?  It's true! In fact, keeping a healthy body
from head to toe is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Taking good care of your 
mouth, teeth and gums does more than help ensure you have a bright, white smile. 
A healthy mouth and healthy body actually go hand in hand. Good oral hygiene and oral
health can improve your overall health, reducing the risk of serious disease and perhaps 
even preserving your memory in your golden years. The phrase "healthy mouth, healthy body" 
really is true and is backed by growing scientific evidence.

Here are 6 ways 
having healthy 
teeth and gums 
helps boost your 
overall health.

1. Boosts Your Self-esteem and Confidence
Decayed teeth and gum disease are many times associated not only with an unsightly mouth 
but also very bad breath.  It can be 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 is 
also bound to be better you can eat properly, sleep better, and concentrate with no aching 
teeth or mouth infections to distract you.
2. 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.
Experts stop short of saying there is a cause-and-effect between gum disease and these other 
serious health problems, but the link has shown up in numerous studies. The findings of these 
studies may suggest that maintaining oral health can help protect overall health.
3. 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.
Those with gingivitis were more likely to perform poorly on two tests: delayed verbal recall 
and subtraction -- both skills used in everyday life.
4. 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 association between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, an 
autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints. Experts say the mechanism of 
destruction of connective tissues in both gum disease and RA is similar.   Eating a balanced 
diet, seeing your dentist regularly, and good oral hygiene helps reduce your risks of tooth 
decay and gum disease. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss once a day. Using an 
antibacterial mouthwash or toothpaste can help reduce bacteria in the mouth that can cause 
5. Helps Keep Blood Sugar Stable if You Have Diabetes
People with uncontrolled diabetes often have gum disease. Having diabetes can make you 
less able to fight off infection, including gum infections that can lead to serious gum disease. 
And some experts have found that if you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop more 
severe gum problems than someone without diabetes.
That, in turn, may make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels.
Reducing your risk of gingivitis by protecting your oral health may help with blood sugar 
control if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
6. 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. 
Not all studies have found a solid link, but maintaining good oral health is still the best goal.  
If you're pregnant, visit your dentist or periodontist  as part of your prenatal care. Consider 
it good practice for the role modeling that lies ahead for all new parents.

Sally Cram, DDS, periodontist, Washington, D.C, and consumer advisor, America Dental Association. 
National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.  
American Academy of Periodontology.
American Academy of Periodontology: "Gum Disease and Diabetes."
American Dental Association: "Healthy mouth, healthy body."
Noble, J. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, May 5, 2009, online.
El-Solh, A. Chest, November 2004, vol 126: pp 1575-1582.
Smolik, I. Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, May 2009, vol 30: pp 188-190, 192, 194, 198, 210.
Offenbacher, S. Journal of Periodontology, October 1996, vol 67: pp 1103-1113.