8 Unexpected Health Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

We know how it is: You’re tired after a long day, so why not skip brushing for one night? And what does it matter if you skip professional cleanings from time to time? It turns out that brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and getting annual or semiannual cleanings benefits more than just your sparkling smile.

Our knowledgeable dentists at Goodman Dental Center in Queen Creek, Arizona, want you to know that practicing good oral hygiene offers advantages that go beyond cavity prevention. Here are just eight of the unexpected benefits of good oral hygiene.

1. Healthier gums

Your mouth is a complex microbiome that contains numerous bacteria species. This environment includes good bacteria that help digest food and potentially harmful bacteria responsible for infection and illness. 

Brushing and flossing regularly keeps a healthy balance between these species by reducing the harmful bacteria in your mouth and removing the food particles that feed them. If you neglect your oral hygiene, harmful bacteria can multiply in your mouth. If this happens, you can develop a substance on your teeth known as plaque. 

Plaque buildup can trigger inflammation in your gums, which can lead to gum disease. Gum disease can cause painful gum tenderness, bleeding, swelling, loose teeth, and tooth loss.

2. Reduced risk for heart attack

Unfortunately, bacteria doesn’t always stay in your mouth. Instead, it can spread throughout your entire body in your bloodstream. When this occurs, it can travel to your heart and cause delicate arteries to narrow, which can put you at risk for heart attack. In fact, gum disease can increase your risk for heart attack by nearly 50%, according to the American College of Cardiology. 

3. Healthier lungs

Your bloodstream isn’t the only way bacteria can go from your mouth to the rest of your body. You can also inhale it from your mouth to your lungs. This can lead to respiratory infections, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia, two of the leading causes of death in the United States.

4. Lower chances of diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a potentially dangerous blood sugar disorder that can cause disability and even early death. It develops when the sugar in your blood remains too high, either because your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or because your body can’t use it properly. This hormone helps your body use blood sugar for energy.

Studies reveal that people with gum disease are up to 50% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those with healthy gums. But why this connection? Gum disease causes inflammation, which makes it harder for your body to use insulin properly. This condition is known as insulin resistance. 

5. Decreased cancer risk

Gum disease can also contribute to certain types of cancer, especially pancreatic cancer. Researchers don’t fully understand the connection yet, but some suggest that bacteria may boost the growth of cancer cells. There may be links to other kinds of cancer, too. These risks can increase significantly if you have gum disease and also use tobacco.  

6. Decreased chance of infertility

If you’re a woman, your oral health can actually impact your ability to become pregnant. In fact, one study found that women with gum disease took two months longer to get pregnant than those without it. And men aren’t free from risks either. Gum disease and tooth decay can lead to poor semen and sperm health. 

7. Safer pregnancy

The dangers your oral health pose to fertility don’t stop with conception. It can affect your pregnancy, too. Studies show a connection between poor oral health and two serious pregnancy complications: low birth weight (weighing in at less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces) and preterm birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy). 

Generally speaking, babies are more likely to thrive when delivered full-term and at a healthy birth weight.

8. More weight-loss success

If you’ve been looking for extra help losing weight, try improving your oral hygiene. Maintaining a healthy weight is a key aspect of good overall health and can reduce your risk of developing several complications, such as:

Brushing your teeth not only helps signal that you’re finished eating, but having a fresh and minty mouth can help keep you from overindulging in desserts and late-night snacks.

Remember, when you take care of your teeth, you’re doing more than preventing cavities — you’re protecting your overall health, too. 

Take your oral hygiene to the next level by scheduling a professional cleaning. Book an appointment online or over the phone with Goodman Dental Center today.

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