Recently, Dr. Roberto Monteagudo from WisconsinSmiles discussed the importance of oral health to your general physical health, and we couldn’t agree more. Eating the right food and exercising has often been the focus of maintaining the body’s overall health. However, oral care affects a wide range of organs, and can support or compromise the immune system.
Dr. Monteagudo states, “There is a connection between poor oral health with problems with your heart and increase chance of having a stroke” and in fact, our gums, if they frequently bleed for example, can be a good indicator of high blood pressure and the early warning signs for strokes. Another important factor is preventing the spread of diseases, and in one study, hospitals decided to buy their patients toothbrushes, having faced problems controlling the spread of pneumonia throughout their clinics. With the new toothbrushes and instructing the patients to brush their teeth regularly each day, there was a 70 percent decrease in clinical pneumonia and many hospitals are now following suit in this policy.
Gum diseases such as gingivitis are extremely common and in fact most people have some form of gingivitis due to irritation of gums and the teaming bacteria living in our mouths. However, with an imperfect oral care routine and if you don’t go to the dentist on a regular bases, food can build up under your gums, and the infection starts to grow. This infection begins to permeate the tooth itself, which you cannot actually feel until it is too late, causing tooth decay. Dr. Monteagudo explains, “The best way to tell early on if you have gingivitis is once you’ve brushed your teeth and you spit and there’s blood, that is a sign of infection […] If you notice your gums are red, not pink, they’re swollen and inflamed, and if you have bad breath, those are signs of infection.”
So what can you do to prevent this spiral?
Thankfully, prevention is easy: it simply involves the right tools and a good routine. It is important to brush your teeth regularly, ideally with a sonic toothbrush to avoid any of that food build up, and keep those toothbrushes clean with a UV sanitizer to kill any chance of infection. Sonic toothbrushes powerful clean your teeth, yet are gentle on even sensitive gums, and along with a sanitizer to keep the bacteria in check, are vital for your oral care routine.
These conditions can be lessened or avoided with good oral care and by preventing infections in your gums from occuring:
- Endocarditis: This is an infection in the inner lining of your heart that typically occurs when germs and bacteria from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
- Cardiovascular disease: Oral bacteria causes inflammation and infection in the gums, and the same can be true if that inflammation and infection spreads to clogged arteries and the heart, possibly causing a stroke or heart disease.
- Pregnancy and birth: Periodontitis, a serious gum infection, can in extreme cases cause premature birth and low birth weight.
The good news is, you can protect your oral and overall health:
- Brush your teeth at least 2-3 times a day
- If you’re always on the go, bring a stylish toothbrush with you to work, the gym and your travels
- Replace your toothbrush head every 3 months
- Floss daily
- Eat a healthy diet and cut out added sugars
- Schedule regular dental checkups
- Avoid tobacco use
It is important to look after your teeth and gums, and in doing so you will notice any symptoms to potentially serious conditions that you can treat at an early stage. Happy brushing!