Oral Health & Longevity: ​How Taking Better Care of Your Teeth Might Prolong Your Life by Dr. R. Craig Miller

Oral Health & Longevity: ​How Taking Better Care of Your Teeth Might Prolong Your Life

Having poor oral health doesn’t mean just cavities and gum disease. Statistics show that an unhealthy mouth can substantially increase the risk of suffering major health problems, including heart disease, respiratory infections, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetic complications. In fact, seven of the 10 leading causes of death listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been linked to bacteria or inflammation in the oral cavity. Periodontal disease has also been associated with premature labor and a low birth-weight baby. 

Clearly, these are all good reasons to exercise consistent oral care, yet many people do not for a variety of reasons. It’s not just teeth and gums; your whole body can be at risk if you let your dental health go. But too often adults, and especially parents, have put themselves last, including in regard to their own dental care, which they might see as cosmetic and not an immediate necessity.

As they age and neglect their teeth and gums more, their oral health worsens and it can definitely correlate with overall health issues. We’ve got to get more people learning how to take care of their teeth as they would their bodies. Here's how to get to the root of the self-oral care problem:

  • Prioritize your oral care. That starts with recognizing behaviors that undermine self-care, or in effect, people putting themselves last. Parents just get caught up in their daily family life. When it isn’t family, it’s work. Self-care takes a back seat to everything else. Sometimes, this self-neglect stems from negative behavior patterns that began in childhood due to how they were raised. Perhaps a parent abandoned them, they were deprived emotionally, or they felt like a failure. Understanding and correcting those behaviors can help make dental care an important part of one’s improved self-image.
  • Regular brushing and flossing. People with good oral hygiene spend less on health care overall. While brushing and flossing well should be obvious, people would be amazed at how much better their teeth and gums would be if they simply adhered to a daily oral-hygiene regimen. Proper brushing and flossing can turn back the clock on gum disease. Oral hygiene has a direct impact on the mouth’s microbiome, which is the balance of organisms that keep decay at bay. Without good oral hygiene, the mouth is at risk for developing periodontal disease – the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
  • Commit to a healthier diet. Excess sugar is one of the primary culprits of plaque, a sticky deposit on the teeth in which bacteria proliferate. Bad bacteria in the mouth feed off sugar and are the primary drivers of oral problems. Without eating healthier foods and having good levels of vitamins and minerals in the body, good bacteria turn to harmful, which leads to tooth decay.
  • Stick with the program. Dental treatment alone offers no guarantees for the long term. The patient is the key person in the whole process. Successful outcomes rely on the patient to be a member of the care team. That means being open to being educated and following through with the dentist, and also it means what they’re doing outside the dentist office is just as important.

Your teeth are meant to be with you for life. And how you take care of them, and your gums, could go a long way toward dictating how long, and with what kind of quality, you live.

The information on 30Seconds.com is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information provided through this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider.

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Donna John
Went to the dentist yesterday! One of my least favorite things to do, but know how important it is. Great tips here. I had heard about heart issues being caused by bad gums, but not the other health issues you mentioned. Dr. R. Craig Miller
Elisa Schmitz
Wow, this is such great information! Who knew our teeth could impact so much more in our bodies? I go twice a year like clockwork, despite not liking it very much. It's a necessity. Thanks for sharing these insights with us, Dr. R. Craig Miller ! Welcome to 30Seconds. We look forward to learning more from you.

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