Nearly a third of Americans never floss. (Sounds crazy, right?) And only three in 10 millennials brush their teeth once per day. In addition, 40 percent of middle-aged adults don’t get regular cleanings. Good oral hygiene has always been a more overlooked part of health care, but science suggests that the key to taking care of your overall health is a clean mouth.
While 85 percent of Americans agree that oral health is extremely important to their overall health, more than 40 percent don’t see the dentist as often as they would like, according to research from the Delta Dental Plans Association. Here are some things to consider when your oral health is at stake.
Dental Hygiene And Your Health
Not going to the dentist regularly is sure to lead to dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay, but it can also impact other parts of your body. The reason being is your mouth is the gateway to your digestive and respiratory systems, and some of the bacteria in your mouth carry disease. With good oral care, that bacteria will be kept under control, but without it could cause infections or diseases.
Because your mouth acts as an entry point, bacteria from there can make its way to other parts of your body. For instance, gum disease, the world’s most common chronic inflammatory condition, is tied to a variety of illnesses including diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. And having continuous inflammation in your mouth can push bacteria into your bloodstream and cause inflammation in other parts of your body such as your heart.
Bacteria in your mouth can also be the source of other conditions. Endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers, is said to originate from bacteria in your mouth entering your bloodstream and then latching onto your heart. And pneumonia or other respiratory illnesses can be caused by bacteria in your mouth getting sucked into your lungs. Birth complications can also arise from poor oral health. Periodontitis has been connected to low birth weight and premature birth.
Certain diseases may increase the severity of some dental problems. Because diabetes and HIV/AIDS lowers your body’s resistance to infections, your oral health could deteriorate. Oral problems tend to be more common among people with these conditions. Mucosal lesions are a frequent issue for people with HIV/AIDS and gum disease is a common ailment for those suffering from diabetes. Diabetes and dental health appear to be intrinsically linked.
Other conditions affecting your oral health include osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Osteoporosis has been tied to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss, while individuals with Alzheimer’s may experience declining oral health.
How To Stay On Top Of It
Practicing proper oral hygiene is crucial for your overall well-being. The first step to a clean mouth is to find a dentist you like and are comfortable with. The best dentist in the Bronx could be a quick search away if you know where to look. Dentist offices such as Glad Dental in New York make being a new patient easy, even if you’ve fallen off the dental hygiene wagon. They even offer cleanings and checkups for folks who don’t have insurance.
If you are in the market for dental insurance, you are not alone. When searching for insurance providers, many people without an immediate need to overlook dental plans. But by taking care of your mouth consistently, you’re less likely to have serious dental problems down the line. Once you determine your health needs and goals, you can compare quotes easily on sites like healthquotegurus.com. Health Quote Gurus lets you explore plans even if you missed open enrollment, and a short questionnaire will tailor results to your needs.
Beyond insurance and dentist visits, there are steps you can take at home to keep your teeth and gums fresh. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and use mouthwash. See your dentist for a checkup and regular cleaning at least once per year.