Your Mouth Is a Gateway to Your Overall Health
Discover your mouth-body connection.
It’s easy to think of your oral and physical health as two separate things. After all, you go to a dentist for your smile, and you go to a physician for your body. You wouldn’t go to a physician to treat a cavity or ask your dentist about your sore back. Although oral and overall health may be medically treated separately, they share a very strong connection.
Dentists often refer to this relationship as the “mouth-body connection.” This phrase is used to describe how oral health can have either a positive or negative impact on physical health and vice versa. Essentially, what’s happening in your mouth affects your body, and what’s going on in the body can cause symptoms in the mouth.
The Link Between Your Oral Health and Your Overall Health
Your mouth is a gateway to your body because it’s a very vascular area with a rich network of blood vessels protected by fairly thin tissue. Your mouth is also home to a flourishing microbiome of good bacteria that’s necessary for a healthy smile, just like how your stomach relies on healthy gut flora. Where trouble can start is when bad bacteria run amok.
When plaque is allowed to build and oral hygiene isn’t prioritized, bad bacteria begin to reproduce and cause trouble. The acids they produce as waste eat away at tooth enamel and irritate the gums, leading to cavities, gingivitis, and eventual gum disease. These heightened levels of bacteria can also enter your bloodstream, traveling to different areas of the body. Additionally, irritation in the mouth can lead to chronic inflammation, which triggers inflammatory responses throughout the body.
High levels of bacteria and chronic inflammation not only cause havoc in your mouth by destroying teeth and gum tissue, but they also lead to increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer (oral cancer and others), dementia, pregnancy complications, and much more.
What this all means is that achieving optimal health is highly dependent on also achieving optimal oral health. Caring for your smile, in turn, cares for the overall health of your body.
How to Promote a Healthy Mouth-Body Connection
One of the wonderful things about the mouth-body connection is that improving your overall health isn’t necessarily difficult. Focusing on improving your oral hygiene is a great place to start.
Here are five easy but very effective things to do to start protecting your oral and physical health.
1. Brush twice a day, for two minutes, and floss daily.
The foundation of your oral health depends on your daily at-home dental hygiene habits.
Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session. Be mindful when brushing to ensure you reach all of your teeth, front and back, in all areas. Flossing should also be a daily habit. You should floss whenever you feel any stuck food in your teeth and before your bedtime brushing.
2. Use dentist-recommended oral care products.
There are a dizzying number of oral care products lining the shelves, with more coming out every day. Stick to products that have the ADA Seal of Approval or have been specifically recommended by your dentist. Your toothpaste should have fluoride for cavity prevention, but your dentist can help you find specialized toothpaste if you have sensitive teeth or gingivitis.
Don’t forget to always use a soft-bristled toothbrush, regardless of whether you use a manual or powered one.
3. Visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning.
You should see your dentist every six months for a general examination and professional teeth cleaning. These checkup appointments, also called hygiene visits, are crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.
During these visits, your dentist will look for subtle signs of trouble brewing before you’d be able to notice. Your hygienist will also deep clean your teeth, removing plaque buildup that can’t be removed with a toothbrush. This deep cleaning helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
4. Drink plenty of water and eat a varied, nutritious diet.
Staying hydrated greatly benefits your oral and physical health. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day prevents dry mouth, which reduces the risks of tooth decay and keeps your breath fresh. Your body also needs to stay hydrated to function properly. Chronic dehydration harms the smile and the body in the long run and often causes additional problems, like frequent headaches.
Your diet also has a big impact on your health and smile. Focus your main diet around nutritious foods, especially whole foods, and minimize your consumption of sugar and processed foods.
5. Be proactive in seeking help for symptoms, no matter how small.
Medical and dental issues don’t often start off with a bang. Usually, they’ll hint at their presence by causing subtle or seemingly insignificant symptoms. For example, if your tooth hurts every now and then or you’ve noticed light bleeding while flossing, this isn’t a reason to panic, but it is more than enough reason to speak with your dentist.
If anything about your overall health or smile has suddenly changed and you suspect something is off, reach out to your dentist or your GP. No symptom or abnormal feeling is too minor to bring up.
Your dentist can help you protect your oral and overall health.
The right dentist will approach dental care from a holistic, overall health perspective, being aware of the mouth-body connection and the importance of achieving optimal oral health. Dr. Naik understands that a patient’s oral and physical health are linked and incorporates this mindset in how she cares for all ages. If you’re looking for an incredible dental care experience in Flower Mound, Texas, then River Walk Dental is the place to call. You can schedule an appointment today by calling our office or requesting a visit online.