We really need to stop taking our teeth for granted. Our teeth do a lot for us — they allow us to express ourselves when we’re happy or posing for a photo, they help us enjoy our favorite meals and desserts, and they contribute to our overall well-being.
To be fair, our oral health is easy to overlook (until something terrible happens). However, healthy teeth and gums are essential for anyone who is wanting to improve and maintain their wellness. With numerous studies indicating a distinct connection between our oral health and overall wellbeing, it’s worth working towards better care of your teeth and gums.
Fostering a Healthy Connection
So, you might be wondering exactly what the link between your mouth’s health and your overall well-being might be. It’s a fair question, and it’s important to know the answer!
The mouth and body connection is an interesting one and can surprisingly cause some serious health complications if not taken care of. Basic brushing and flossing can prevent a lot of the bacteria that cause infections and issues like gum disease. However, if you aren’t taking care of your oral needs, your body reacts the same way it would to a cold or cut — your immune system kicks in and tries to correct the situation, which can cause inflammation.
As one dentistry further explains on the mouth-body connection, “Inflammation in the mouth is also said to severely affect the body’s ability to control and regulate blood sugar, which could result in type 2 diabetes. High blood sugars provide bacteria with the perfect growing ground, causing gum disease or periodontitis. Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause heart disease and other medical problems.” With that in mind, it’s easy to fall into a damaging cycle when you ignore your oral health. No matter how much work you put into your diet and exercise, it can come up short when you ignore the smaller details.
Now that you understand more about the mouth and body connection, what are some ways you can actively take care of your teeth and gums? Beyond the everyday habits of brushing and flossing, the Human Health Project does a great job of listing those bad habits that affect our oral health, and some are more common than you think. Some of these include:
- Brushing with hard bristles/brushing too hard: this can lead to your gums receding as you age and result in hypersensitivity in teeth.
- Misusing toothpicks/pencil or pen chewing: this can create gaps between teeth as well as break down your teeth’s structure.
- Nail biting: this mindless habit can wear down your teeth over time and lead to cracks and chips along your front teeth.
- Neglecting bad odor: strong, lingering bad breath can be a sign of some serious medical problems such as liver and lung disease
If you’re ever unsure if your habits (or lack thereof) are detrimental to your oral health, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist questions. Remember, our mouths tell us a lot about our bodies, so it’s worth taking the time to familiarize yourself with important, healthy habits and the not-so-healthy signs of possible deeper issues.
Leading By Example
Prevention is key when it comes to oral health, not just with us, but with our kids as well. Encouraging healthy habits is one of the main goals for any parent. After all, we want to adequately prepare them for their journey into adulthood, and oral health is one of those worthwhile habits to instill into your kids. According to Ohio University, while 77 percent of children in the U.S. do receive preventative dental care, they explain that many kids still aren’t able to get the full care they need and are left with poor oral health.
As every dentist likes to joke, we only get two sets of teeth, so it’s important to take care of the ones you want to keep. Granted, we do live in a time where it’s possible to get things like veneers and crowns, however, those procedures are much more costly than making it a point to visit your dentist every 6 months for a routine check-up and cleaning. Furthermore, if you can’t afford those procedures, missing teeth end up affecting your health, both mentally and physically.
The best way to teach your children about the importance of oral health and wellness is by leading by example. As we all know, kids love to mimic what they see their parents and siblings doing — which includes healthy oral habits. If you make your mouth a priority, your kids will too. Working in tandem with healthy diet and exercise habits, your kids will grow up knowing more about their body, understanding its needs, and how to take care of it. It’s a win-win.
From bad habits to good ones, learning more about your oral health needs might just be the missing link in your wellness journey. Taking care of your teeth and gums doesn’t require much, either. However, the consequences of not taking them can become a real pain, real fast (not to mention, costly). At the end of the day, it’s never too late to start taking care of your oral health. Good luck!