Most people are taught to brush their teeth and floss every day in order to avoid getting cavities. These become a mundane daily routine in the morning and evening that do not seem very important. However, your oral health is more important than you might think. It is essential to our overall health and our quality of life.

The connection between oral health and general health is not very obvious, but the two are very closely linked. Your mouth is full of bacteria, most of which is harmless. A combination of your body’s natural defenses and good oral care keep these bacteria in your mouth under control. Saliva is one of the main defenses against disease-causing bacteria: it has enzymes that destroy and inhibit the growth of bacteria.

However, while your saliva usually helps protect you against these bacteria, it cannot always do its job, leading the bacteria to build and form dental plaque, which is a sticky, colorless film that coats your teeth and causes health problems. If you don’t brush or floss regularly, plaque builds up along your gum line and in between your teeth. This build up of bacteria can lead to oral infections.

Long-term oral infections can result in dental cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, and even tooth loss. The affects do not stop there: research has show that oral infections can also contribute to various other diseases and conditions including cardiovascular disease, preterm birth, diabetes, osteoporosis, and others. If you don’t already have enough reasons to brush your teeth and floss daily, the link between your oral and overall health provides even more reason.

Here are some tips to protect your oral health:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Decrease sugar intake (including soda, candy, etc.)
  • Replace your toothbrush every three months
  • Quit smoking
  • Schedule yearly appointments with your dentist

 

Sources:

Mayo Clinic

National Library of Medicine

World Health Organization 

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