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Impact of Oral Health on General Health

Our smile represents us, and a smile is an expression of who we are. It is important we take care of our teeth as well as our gums, and in fact our entire mouth. Brushing, flossing and nutrition are well-established practices of healthy oral hygiene as well as preventive care against periodontal disease (chronic infection of the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth) that causes re-eclampsia, low-birth weight, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Limiting sugary and acidic foods is good for oral hygiene and overall health. Dark leafy greens, almonds, flax seeds and tofu are rich sources of calcium needed for healthy teeth as well as bones. Add a few pinches of herbs like marjoram, thyme, savory, dill or rosemary in food while cooking is a natural way to increase your calcium intake while making your meal delicious.

Hydration with clean water is an important factor for adequate saliva production for overall oral health. Saliva helps to reduce tooth decay via mechanical washing, and antimicrobial function and by its alkaline buffering capacity. A general recommendation for water intake is half your body weight in ounces and as many ounces of water as the pounds you lose while exercising. Sugar, carbohydrates and acidic foods lower the pH in the mouth which in turn increases the initiation and progression of cavities. Avoiding sweetened beverages is another easy way to significantly reduce the risk of developing severe early childhood teeth decay in young children. Certain medications, like antihistamines and decongestants, reduce the flow of saliva and individuals on these medications should try to sip water regularly to support oral hydration.

Elders with oral problems are threefold more likely to suffer from and be at risk for malnutrition. A small study in Belgium found that periodontitis was a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease.

Another study revealed that oral disease induces early harmful changes in peripheral blood vessels. Earlier this year, a review of research found a modest, but significant association between maternal periodontitis and low-birth weights and pre-term births.

Balanced nutrition and hydration combined with regular daily cleaning habits and dental check-ups will ensure a positive influence on total health and wellness.

Tags: Oral health, oral hygiene, periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, re-eclampsia, low-birth weight, saliva, coronary artery disease, peripheral blood vessels, dental checkup, balanced nutrition