The Amazing Benefits of Dental Care on Overall Health
I don’t believe in “one-tooth dentistry.” In fact, when I made the decision to pursue dentistry as my profession it was based upon a completely different set of values. As a practicing OKC dentist, my dream was to create a wellness-centered dental practice that emphasizes the prevention of dental disease and the creation and maintenance of a healthy mouth and beautiful smile as part of one’s overall health. When I began – those ideas were still a bit cutting edge. Today, my paradigm has become the new standard by which dental care is judged. I’m happy to be at the forefront of this movement and I’m excited to share with you some of my key learnings in regards to the amazing benefits of dental care on your overall health.
But first, let’s go back to the beginning – the VERY beginning. Researchers believe that the practice of dentistry has been in existence since between 13,000 and 12,740 years ago when a Neolithic dentist most likely used a stone to enlarge cavities in the teeth and scrape out decayed tissue. Ouch.
Thankfully, the practice of dentistry has evolved a lot since then. Today, we use advanced technology and pain-free procedures that make it a pleasant experience. But the biggest evolution in modern dentistry has been approaching dental health as it relates to total health and overall well-being.
The Interrelationship of Dental Care & Overall Health
My belief has always been that comprehensive family dental care looks at the interrelationship of the teeth, gums, supporting bone and jaw muscles. These structures of the oral cavity must work in harmony to allow us to speak, chew, and smile. This same philosophy applies to the interrelationship of dental care on your overall health and well-being.
Research has shown that there is a strong link between oral health and systemic health, with dental care contributing to a healthier heart, improved respiratory health, better diabetes management, and reduced risk of certain infections. By taking care of our teeth and gums, we not only enhance our oral health but also positively impact our overall physical health, leading to a happier and more fulfilling life.
Dangers of Poor Oral Health
Your oral health is more important than you might think, as it can play a role in various diseases and conditions. Here are some connections to be mindful of:
- Endocarditis: This infection can occur when bacteria or germs from your mouth travel through your bloodstream and attach to areas in your heart, leading to infection in the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves.
- Cardiovascular disease: While the exact link is still being studied, research suggests that oral bacteria’s inflammation and infections could be connected to heart disease, clogged arteries, and even strokes.
- Pregnancy and birth complications: Periodontitis, a type of gum disease, has been associated with premature birth and low birth weight in pregnant women.
- Pneumonia and respiratory diseases: Certain mouth bacteria can find their way into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory issues.
By prioritizing your oral health and maintaining good hygiene, you can potentially lower the risk of these health complications and enjoy a healthier overall well-being! Remember, a healthy smile goes hand in hand with a healthy body!
The Benefits of Good Oral Health
There are many benefits of good oral health that apply to your overall health & wellness. Some of the main benefits are:
- Living longer: Recent research highlights a captivating link between teeth count and lifespan. People with 20 or more teeth at 70 are more likely to live longer than those with fewer teeth.
- Reducing risk of disease: Gum disease extends far beyond oral health, presenting significant implications for overall well-being. The presence of harmful mouth bacteria entering the bloodstream triggers blood thickening, escalating the risk of blood clots and potentially leading to heart attacks due to inadequate nutrients and oxygen supply to the heart. Moreover, inflammation in blood vessels resulting from gum disease obstructs the flow of blood to the brain, heightening the possibility of strokes. Gum disease has also been linked to the development of diabetes.
- Reducing risk of cancer and dementia: Maintaining oral health plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of certain cancers and dementia, especially in women. Recent research on post-menopausal women aged 54 to 86 revealed that those with gum disease had a 14% higher cancer risk. Surprisingly, one in three of these cases developed breast cancer, with increased risks of lung, esophageal, gall bladder, and skin cancers. Conversely, individuals with healthy gums have a remarkable 70% lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those with a history of gum disease.
- Having a healthy baby: Healthy gums during pregnancy are vital for the well-being of both the mother and the baby. Research indicates that pregnant women with healthy gums are about three times less likely to have a premature baby, reducing the risk of low birth weight. In contrast, gum disease increases the chance of giving birth before 35 weeks, with a one-in-four likelihood. Gum disease triggers elevated chemical levels that can induce premature labor.
- Look & feel good: Good oral hygiene plays a key role in preventing common issues like bad breath (halitosis) caused by plaque buildup, often associated with gum disease and tooth decay. Bad breath can be embarrassing, affecting social interactions. Additionally, tooth staining from factors like smoking, tea, coffee, or red wine can make us feel self-conscious about our smiles. Regular cleaning can prevent surface staining and maintain bright teeth.
- Increasing self confidence: Self-confidence plays a pivotal role in promoting overall health and well-being. When individuals possess a strong sense of self-assurance, they tend to adopt positive habits and lifestyle choices. This leads to increased physical activity, healthier eating habits, and better management of stress. Moreover, self-confident individuals are more likely to seek out social connections, which can reduce feelings of isolation and improve mental health. The belief in one’s abilities also enhances resilience, enabling individuals to bounce back from setbacks and cope effectively with challenges. As a result, self-confidence fosters a positive mindset, reduces anxiety and depression, and ultimately contributes to a healthier and more fulfilling life.
8 Tips to Protecting Your Oral Health
- Brush like a boss: Choose a high-quality, soft-bristled toothbrush and pair it with fluoride toothpaste for a powerful clean. Make sure to brush your teeth thoroughly for two minutes, twice a day, reaching all surfaces for optimal results.
- Flex your floss Game: Don’t neglect the spaces between your teeth! Daily flossing is essential to remove plaque and food particles from those hard-to-reach areas, promoting healthy gums and preventing cavities.
- Magical mouthwash: Enhance your oral care routine by incorporating mouthwash into your regimen. Swishing with mouthwash after brushing and flossing helps eliminate bacteria and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean.
- Nourish your smile: A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals contributes to strong teeth and gums. Embrace tooth-friendly foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy while reducing sugary treats and acidic beverages that can harm your enamel.
- Refresh your toothbrush: Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or when the bristles show signs of wear. A fresh toothbrush ensures effective cleaning and prevents the buildup of harmful bacteria.
- Consistent checkups: Don’t skip your regular dental checkups and cleanings. These appointments are crucial for identifying potential issues early on, preventing more extensive problems, and maintaining a healthy, radiant smile.
- Kick the tobacco habit: Say no to tobacco products, as they pose serious risks to your oral health and overall well-being. Quitting will not only improve your smile but also benefit your entire body.
- Don’t procrastinate: If you experience any oral health concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist. Early intervention is key to resolving issues and preserving your beautiful smile.
Bonus Tip: A health secret weapon?
Exercise! Believe it or not exercise can help with your oral health.
Regular exercise can have a profound impact on maintaining excellent oral health and preventing gum disease. Recent studies have indicated that individuals who prioritize their fitness and overall health have a 40 percent lower likelihood of developing gum infections that may lead to gum disease. On the flip side, a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, and excess weight can increase the risk of advanced gum disease.
To safeguard both your overall health and your teeth, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is crucial. Some of my favorite activities to stay in shape are golf, cycling, and kite boarding. Find something you are passionate about and get moving. Engaging in regular exercise, coupled with a balanced and nutritious diet, can contribute to a healthier body weight and reduce the chances of gum disease.
Partner with your local cosmetic dentist on your overall health
To close, I want to emphasize the importance of open communication with your dental team regarding any changes in your general health. Your well-being is our priority, and sharing crucial information is essential for providing you with the best care possible.
If you are pregnant or have specific health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or a history of stroke, please let us know. Understanding your medical background helps us tailor treatments to meet your individual needs, ensuring your safety and comfort during dental procedures.
Moreover, it’s vital to inform us about any medications you are taking, as they can influence both your treatment and the health of your mouth. This information allows us to make informed decisions and provide suitable dental care that aligns with your medical requirements. Our goal is to maintain your oral health and contribute to your overall well-being, so don’t hesitate to share any pertinent health details with your caring dental care provider!
In Good Health,
Dr. Saxon, DDS