Although the American Dental Association recommends regular dental exams and cleanings twice a year, most individuals assume that their routine dental care helps only with oral health: reduction in cavities, reduced plaque, etc. But oral care plays a big role in overall health. As Connie Stevens said, “Nothing you wear is more important than your smile.” In fact, studies are revealing just how important that beautiful smile is; it isn’t just for looks, excellent oral care (and the resulting smile) increase your overall health.
Do pearly whites mean fewer infections?
A brighter smile is a perk of a good oral routine of flossing, brushing, and using mouthwash. This effect is particularly noticeable if you’ve chosen a whitening toothpaste; however, a nice white smile is a small perk compared to the benefits of a plaque-free mouth on overall health. Plaque, a sticky film that coats teeth and is caused by bacteria, can cause problems if it is left to build up.When plaque builds up along the gums, it can lead to gingivitis or periodontitis. Both of those diseases can affect other conditions you may already have like diabetes. For example, a patient with diabetes and gingivitis may have a more difficult time controlling his/her blood sugar levels.
All in all, keeping your teeth as clean as possible helps to reduce the bacteria in your mouth, which can potentially reduce the risk of infections in other parts of your body. Because unchecked bacteria can travel through the respiratory system or even to the brain, keeping a healthy smile reduces the risk of respiratory infections and dementia.
Smiles help babies
An expectant mom may have a lot on her mind, and making dental care a priority should be up there on her list. Taking care of your smile while pregnant can help ward off pregnancy-induced gingivitis while also improving the overall health of mom and baby. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimated that 18% of babies born with low birth weights were born with low weights because of dental infections.
The act of physically smiling also has a positive effect on your overall health. In fact, smiling can reduce your tension levels on a cellular level. Biochemist Sondra Barrett explored the link between smiling, positive thoughts, and healthy cellular function in Secrets of Your Cells: Discovering Your Body’s Inner Intelligence. Who needs a better reason to share a smile with the world?
Unfortunately, not everyone is proud of their smile. If something is holding you back from flashing your pearly whites, speak to your dentist about cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening or veneers. Cosmetic dentistry is a great option to help you find the smile that makes you proud.
Improved mental health
A lot of socialization involves the mouth: talking and eating. Without a healthy mouth, socializing with friends, family, and coworkers can be difficult. Eating can be a burden if too many teeth are missing or fragile; talking to coworkers can cause self-esteem issues. On the other hand, having a healthy mouth can give you the confidence to socialize and chat at work with ease.