When people take the time to practice good oral hygiene habits, they often believe they are keeping their mouths healthy by reducing their risks of infection, gum disease, and tooth loss. While good oral hygiene does accomplish these things, its effects may go much further than the mouth as studies have linked good oral health to decreased risks of dementia, heart disease, stroke, and other major health problems. The following are 9 ways in which maintaining good overall health can greatly benefit your overall health as well.
Decreased Risk of Dementia
A recent study from the University of California that was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society suggests a link between good oral health care and lower risks of developing dementia late in life. This study took place over 18 years from 1992 to 2010 and included more than five thousand participants with an average age of 81 from a California retirement community. The researchers found that the female participants who did not brush daily were 65 percent more likely than those that did to develop dementia while the men who did not brush were 22 percent more likely.
Decreased Risk of Heart Disease
Many studies have shown that people who practice good oral health care and receive regular cleanings from the dentist may be less likely to develop heart disease. Harmful bacteria that cause gum disease can enter the bloodstream through the gums and cause an array of problems throughout the body including the heart.
Decreased Risk of Stroke
Similar studies have also found links between good oral health and a decreased risk of stroke because it keeps harmful bacteria out of the bloodstream.
Decreased Risk of Gum Disease
This is perhaps the most obvious health benefit on this list but still worth mentioning as a point of emphasis. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, brushing twice a day can help prevent gum disease.
Decreased Risk of Pneumonia
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Periodontology, oral infections can increase the risk of respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. These diseases are typically triggered by bacteria that reach the lower respiratory tract from the throat. Practicing good oral hygiene will lower your risk of infection, thereby lowering the risk of bacteria from the throat causing pneumonia.
Promote Healthier Pregnancies
Practicing good oral hygiene is important for pregnant women because a 2007 study published in the Journal of Periodontology Online shows a link between periodontal disease and low birth weight. According to study researcher Catia M. Gazolla, DDS, “These are important findings that we hope all pregnant women will take to their dental professionals when discussing their periodontal health.”
Control Your Eating
Brushing your teeth after a meal is a great way to signal to your brain that it is time to stop eating, according to a report from Prevention. This will keep you from over eating after completing a meal.
Decreased Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Much like with dementia, several studies have shown links between gum disease and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Keeping your mouth free of bacteria and infections can help lower the risk of this disease.
Healthier Sex Life
Good oral health could translate into better sexual health as it may help prevent erectile dysfunction. A report published in Prevention magazine showed that men who have erectile dysfunction were more likely to have moderate to severe levels of chronic gum disease than those who do not.
It is important to practice good oral hygiene and follow effective brushing habits in order to protect your health beyond just your mouth. Visit your dentist for regular cleanings and make sure to practice proper brushing habits.