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Home > Blog > Oral health: A Window To Your Overall Health

Oral health: A Window To Your Overall Health

April 20, 2023
Did you know that your oral health offers clues about your overall health? Did you know that problems in the mouth can affect the rest of the body? Protect yourself by learning more about the link between your oral health and overall health.

What's the link between oral health and overall health?

Like other areas of the body, the mouth is full of germs. Those germs are mostly harmless. But the mouth is the entry to the digestive tract. That's the long tube of organs from the mouth to the anus that food travels through. The mouth also is the entry to the organs that allow breathing, called the respiratory tracts. So sometimes germs in the mouth can lead to disease throughout the body.

Most often the body's defenses and good oral care keep germs under control. Good oral care includes daily brushing and flossing. Without good oral hygiene, germs can reach levels that might lead to infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Also, certain medicines can lower the flow of spit, called saliva. Those medicines include decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, water pills and antidepressants. Saliva washes away food and keeps the acids germs make in the mouth in balance. This helps keep germs from spreading and causing disease.

Oral germs and oral swelling and irritation, called inflammation, are linked to a severe form of gum disease, called periodontitis. Studies suggest that these germs and inflammation might play a role in some diseases. And certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body's ability to fight infection. That can make oral health problems worse.

How can I protect my oral health?

To protect your oral health, take care of your mouth every day.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a brush with soft bristles and fluoride toothpaste. Brush your tongue too.
  • Clean between your teeth daily with floss, a water flosser or other products made for that purpose.
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit sugary food and drinks.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months. Do it sooner if bristles are worn or flare out.
  • See a dentist at least once a year for checkups and cleanings. Your dentist may suggest visits or cleanings more often, depending on your situation. You might be sent to a gum specialist, called a periodontist, if your gums need more care.
  • Don't use tobacco.

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