By Dr.  Laura Wellener

The mouth is the gateway to the body. The health of our teeth and our entire mouth is often a window to our overall health. The importance of good oral health has become more and more evident as we have begun to understand the impact dental diseases can have, not only in our mouth, but in the rest of our body as well. Quite simply, our mouth is connected to the rest of our body. Good overall health and good oral health go hand in hand. Often, if a person has ongoing, untreated dental disease, the rest of the body can have problems as well. Dental disease can include cavities and periodontal or gum disease as well as any other infections in the mouth. These conditions are all caused by bacteria in our mouths. If left untreated, this can lead to pain, further infection and tooth loss. The effects do not stop at our mouth. Poor oral health has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more.

Having a healthy mouth is vital for a number of reasons. If we have mouth pain, loose teeth or missing teeth, it can greatly impact our ability to eat well. Good nutrition is key to keeping our bodies running efficiently. When our ability to chew is decreased, we often resort to eating softer foods which typically do not offer the high nutritious content of fruits and vegetables. This cycle can lead to poor nutrition which also causes detriment to our bodies.

Fortunately, good oral health is achievable, and dental disease is largely preventable. Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss once a day. Visit your dentist regularly, so you can be checked for cavities, gum disease and oral cancer.

If you don’t have a dentist, it makes sense to become acquainted with one before an emergency arises. Probably the best, most tried and true way of finding a new dentist is to ask someone you trust for their recommendation. This could include friends, neighbors, co-workers, church members or your doctor. You can also visit the North Carolina Dental Society online at www.ncdental.org for a directory of dentists in our area.

A good quality of life depends on good health, and taking good care of your mouth will help you on that path.

 

This post was adapted from an article written by Dr. Wellener for OutreachNC February 2013.