We all know that we should floss and brush our teeth regularly. An attractive smile, avoiding tooth aches, and preventing bad breath are just a few of the reasons to take good care of our mouths. But how does oral hygiene affect our health as a whole? Here are a few reasons why taking care of your teeth actually takes care of your whole body.
Plaque and Infection
Bacteria cause the plaque that builds up on your teeth, and daily brushing or flossing brushes it away. While this helps your teeth look and feel better, it also protects you against infection. Bacteria tend to scaffold on plaque, and the more layers of plaque there are increases the space for bacteria to inhabit. Once the bacteria sufficiently outnumber your natural antibodies, you can get an infection. This gets particularly dangerous if the fauna–microbes–in your mouth are unbalanced because of antibiotics or other medication you take. Once that happens, it’s possible for infections to spread from the mouth to other parts of the body.
Plaque and Diabetes
While plaque does not cause diabetes, it can make things more difficult for people already struggling with the disease. Diabetics already have a higher risk for gum disease, and improper mouth hygiene can increase the chances of chronic gum disease. Research suggests that infections can cause insulin resistance and can further disrupt the body’s ability to control blood sugar.
Plaque and Cardiovascular Disease
Because plaque allows for infections to set in, these infections can have a multitude of dangerous influences on the body. For instance, research indicates that bacterial infections in the mouth can also cause inflammation in the body’s blood vessels. This inflammation can actually lead to a different kind of plaque buildup in arteries and potentially cause a heart attack or stroke.
Plaque and Preterm Labor
The same infections that can cause so many problems in the human body can even interfere with a woman’s pregnancy. Oral infections have been linked to low weight and preterm births, which can be dangerous for both mother and child. Experts theorize that toxins from the infection may interfere with the mother’s hormones which can trigger early labor.
Oral hygiene is well worth the effort of a few minutes every day and regular trips to the dentist. Not only will it keep your mouth feeling, looking, and smelling good, but it is also a front line of defense against diseases that can affect the entire body.