Oral Hygiene and Your Overall Health
Poor oral health has been linked to heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. But by changing certain habits, you can improve the health of your mouth and teeth and lessen your risk.
How well you care for your teeth and gums has a powerful effect on your overall health. Neglecting your oral health lead to more than just sore teeth and bad breath — it can open the door to all sorts of health problems, including some pretty nasty diseases like oral cancer. Researchers have found possible connections between gum problems and heart disease, bacterial pneumonia, stroke, and even problem pregnancies.
“You cannot be healthy with an unhealthy mouth any more than one can be healthy with an infected foot,” says Richard H. Price, DMD, spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA) and a former clinical instructor at the Boston University Dental School.
The Role of Diet and Lifestyle in Oral Health
A number of dietary habits and lifestyle factors can affect oral health, including:
Sugar consumption. “Having a sugar-laden diet will contribute to tooth decay and gum problems, as the bacteria in the mouth thrive in this environment,” producing tooth and gum-destroying enzymes and acids, says Dr. Price, who retired after 35 years as a dentist in Newton, Mass.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
To maintain your oral health — and overall good health — Price says you should see your dentist regularly to head off any problems early. You should also practice good oral hygiene at home by carefully brushing and flossing your teeth regularly in order to prevent plaque from accumulating and causing problems. There is nothing a dentist can do that a patient can’t undo by neglecting their dental care, says Price
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