Why a healthy smile matters

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We all know we should brush and floss our teeth regularly to maintain a healthy smile – but an increasing number of studies show that our oral health plays an important role in our overall health, too. Here’s a closer look at the mouth-body connection.

1. Heart disease

While they don’t seem obviously related, studies have shown that there may be a link between oral health and cardiovascular disease. According to Mayo Clinic, “Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.” And ScienceDaily cites a recent preliminary study by Tulane University in New Orleans which found that “Losing two or more teeth in middle age is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk.”

2. Alzheimer’s disease

A number of studies suggest there is a connection between poor oral health and an increased risk of dementia. One of the most recent, published in Science Advances, has shown a possible link between one of the bacteria associated with gum diseaseand Alzheimer’s disease. USA Today reported on the findings: “Researchers observed the bacteria in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. They also conducted tests on mice that showed the gum infection led to an increased production of amyloid beta, a part of the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

3. Diabetes

Oral health has also been connected to diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, “Research shows that there is an increased prevalence of gum disease among those with diabetes…” They also state that the relationship seems to work both ways: “Not only are people with diabetes more susceptible to serious gum disease, but serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes.”

Take care of your teeth

It’s clear that good oral care is vitally important, not only for your teeth but also for your general health. World Oral Health Day states that it’s never too late to start looking after your oral health and offers the following tips for good oral care.

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between your teeth regularly with floss or other interdental cleaners.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid using tobacco and limit your sugar and alcohol intake.
  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings.