Good Oral Health Is Important for Overall Health

Oct. 27, 2022

parents and young girl smile in mirror with toothbrushes Hover image

Maintaining good oral health is more important to overall health than it may seem. Studies have linked health of gums, teeth and mouth to other illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. 

“Oral health is related to overall health and has the capacity to have a negative effect on overall health when not maintained properly,” says Dr. Fonda Strickland, clinical dental director at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.      

Teeth, gums, the tongue and other soft tissues in the mouth are connected to the bloodstream. Maintaining good oral health helps balance the good and bad bacteria in the body. Inflammation in the periodontium (the supporting gums around your teeth) and bone can affect the immune system and other areas of the body. 

“Prevention and preventive care should be the main focus,” Strickland says. “Without proper care, you are at risk of many oral diseases, including but not limited to cavities, gingivitis and other advanced forms of periodontal disease (gum disease).”

Visit a dentist twice a year for diagnostic care like X-rays and clinical photographs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing to remove plaque. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

Other tips for good oral health include these: 

  • Drink fluoridated water. 
  • Do not use tobacco products. 
  • Limit alcoholic drinks. 
  • Rethink sugary beverages.  

People with diabetes should maintain the disease to decrease the risk for other complications like gum disease. Treating gum disease may lower blood sugar levels, according to the CDC. 

Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods also promotes healthy teeth and gums. Calcium-rich foods such as low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese and minerals found in eggs, fish, lean meat diary and nuts can be good for teeth. Vitamin C is good for the gums. It can be found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes and spinach. 

“Visit your dentist before the year ends and take a loved one with you,” she says. “Ask for preventive screenings and take advantage of diagnostic tools and services that are available to you as a preventive or screening option. Find out what recommendations and time intervals are appropriate for you and those you love.” 

The CDC is an independent organization that provides health information you may find helpful.

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