Maintaining oral hygiene is very important for overall health; it does far more just keeping a bright smile. Good oral hygiene can reduce the risk of serious conditions like heart diseases, and may also preserve memory as people age. Dental health may affect overall health in six different ways, which include:
- Improves self-esteem and confidence – Teeth decay and gum infections not only affect looks, but can also lead to bad breath, which can affect a person's self-esteem and confidence. Good oral health can also increase quality of life by improving sleep and preventing infections and pain.
- Reduces the risk of heart diseases – Chronic inflammation caused by gum disease can result in blood vessel blockage, and even stroke. Many studies have shown a positive link between gum disease and other chronic conditions. Maintaining health teeth and gums makes a person less susceptible to other serious health complications.
- Preserves memory – according to a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, adults who had gum diseases perform worse in memory tests and other cognitive skills tests when compared to those who had healthier gums and teeth. Patients with gingivitis had a poor performance in verbal recall and subtraction.
- Reduces the risk of inflammation and infection – Poor oral hygiene and health contribute to infection in other parts of the body. Some studies have shown an association between gum diseases and rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases that cause inflammation of the joints. Both gum disease and these autoimmune diseases destroy connective tissue, which may be one reason why they are associated. Tooth decay and gum disease can be controlled by having a balanced diet, seeing the dentist regularly, and practicing good hygiene. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day are the best methods for maintaining healthy gums and teeth. Antibacterial mouthwash or toothpaste can help prevent the growth of bacteria that cause gum infections.
- Helps regulate blood sugar levels in diabetes patients – Diabetes increases the risk of gum infections, as the affected person is not able to fight diseases such as gingivitis. A recent study has shown that people with diabetes are more likely to have severe gum disease when compared to those who do not have diabetes. Maintaining good oral hygiene reduces the risk of gingivitis and indirectly helps control blood sugar level in individuals with diabetes.
- Helps pregnant women to complete term – Occurrence of gingivitis increases with pregnancy, and this may in turn result in pre-term, low-birth weight infants. Maintaining good oral health is important for completing term and having healthy babies.