Closeup of a toothbrush with toothpaste on it

How Your Oral Care Habits Affect Your Overall Health

Achieving a gleaming smile is motivation enough to maintain good oral hygiene. But when you also consider the ways in which poor oral care habits can impact your overall health, tooth and gum maintenance becomes about much more than confidently flashing those pearly whites. Consistent oral health offenses can not only cause stains, cavities, and bad breath — if left unchecked, they can also lead to unhealthy plaque buildup or serious conditions such as periodontal disease (aka gum disease), which may give way to a host of general medical issues.

Here’s why it’s so crucial to brush your teeth for two minutes twice daily, schedule dentist checkups twice annually, and otherwise commit to protecting your oral health.

Plaque and Gum Disease Have Been Linked to Heart Disease

That buildup on your teeth may not seem like such a big deal. However, over time, excessive plaque harbors many bacteria that can lead to gum disease or gingivitis. The most mild symptoms can include gum inflammation and bleeding, and in worst-case scenarios, untreated periodontal disease has been connected to heart disease.

Bacteria can more easily penetrate a gum line compromised by disease and erosion, in turn reaching the jaw. If unaddressed, damaging bacteria then has the potential to enter the bloodstream and spread through the body. The combination of bacteria and inflammation is believed to be a primary cause behind linked cases of heart disease and even diabetes, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and premature labor.

Several people who suffer from heart disease or who experience heart attacks also have gum disease. The correlation is strong enough that cardiologists are recommended to ask patients about their current and past oral health and gum disease history. Though the exact reason behind the correlation is still debated, the trend should not be ignored, as caring for your teeth and gums may reduce your risk of heart issues.

Don’t Ignore Your Oral Health

Regular preventative cleanings and checkups for early detection of oral health issues are key to avoid gingivitis and gum disease — and, consequently, to protect your heart health and whole-body wellbeing. Don’t skip those routine dentist appointments. They may just end up saving your life!