You may have considered what it would cost to have a healthy smile, but what does an unhealthy smile cost you? When you consider the effects of an unhealthy smile, perhaps you think of crooked or discolored teeth, bad breath, or even tooth loss. But a lack of oral hygiene can lead to health problems beyond those in your mouth.
Your body is made of interconnected systems, and the mouth serves as the primary gateway for what enters the body. That means that an unhealthy mouth can result in health problems elsewhere in your body. Similarly, the mouth can serve as a diagnostic tool for other health issues that seem to have little to do with your smile.
Did you know your mouth is full of bacteria? Don’t worry — for the most part, this is actually a good thing! A healthy mouth needs to have enough good bacteria to fight off disease-carrying microorganisms that may enter the mouth when you breathe, drink, or eat.
Unfortunately, not all bacteria in your mouth are quite so beneficial. Plaque forms naturally on your teeth when you consume sugar or carbohydrates. If not brushed or flossed away regularly, certain bacteria will feed on plaque, producing acid that damages your teeth and can lead to tooth decay over time.
These are bacteria that lead to oral health issues you probably already know about — gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, etc. But weak teeth, inflammation, and bleeding gums can create opportunities for other harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream. This can lead to health issues elsewhere in your body.
More studies are needed to determine if your oral health causes other health issues, or if your oral health is just linked to your overall health in some way. Regardless of whether it comes down to causation or correlation, what matters is that there’s definitely a connection.
Your oral health can be linked to multiple other health issues, including:
We’ve taken a look at how your oral health can affect your overall health. But did you know that the opposite is also true? Certain health conditions can make it more difficult for patients to maintain a healthy smile:
The link between your oral health and your overall health is clear. So how do you protect both? Luckily, there are three simple steps you can take to promote a healthy smile:
Our West Michigan preventative dentists can help you maintain a healthy smile and promote good oral health and overall health. With four practices in West Michigan, we have the capability of handling all of your family’s dental needs. To schedule an appointment, call MI Smiles Dental at (616) 974-4990.
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