Few people realize that there is a strong and direct connection between dental health and overall health. There is a lot that goes into maintaining good health and nutrition and when it comes to preserving your health by protecting your teeth is a great place to start!
What’s the connection?
The mouth has many different types of bacteria, most that are helpful for things such as digestion. However, there are bad bacteria that can cause major problems for your teeth and gums. In addition, certain medications list dry mouth as one of the main side effects and this can make dental problems worse. Saliva washes away food, helps to neutralize the acids from the food you eat and guards against bacteria growth. Studies also suggest that when gum disease gets severe the bacteria that causes it can spread to other areas of the body where it causes major damage. In addition, when you are fighting certain health issues and diseases your body is less likely to fight off illnesses, infections, and other health problems.
The Link Between Oral Health and Dental Health
Your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:
- Endocarditis. This is an infection in the inner lining of your heart, known as the endocardium. Endocarditis typically happens when an infection spreads from one area of the body and attacks areas of the heart.
- Cardiovascular disease. It has been suggested in some studies that heart disease, clogged arteries, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke could all be linked to or made worse by the infections caused by oral bacteria.
- Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis and other severe infections of the teeth and gums has been linked in multiple studies to instances of premature birth, birth complication, developmental issues, and low birth weight.
Certain conditions also might affect your oral health, including:
- Diabetes- the blood is greatly affected and this can impact healing in all areas
- HIV/AIDS-mouth and teeth problems are common in people with HIV/AIDS
- Osteoporosis- the condition can cause a weakening of the teeth and jaw bone
- Alzheimer’s- advanced cases have severe dental problems as a symptom
- Other conditions that can affect both overall health and dental health can include things like- eating disorders, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, severe allergies, sinus infections, and immune disorders.
Because of all the possibilities for links between your health and your dental health, it is important to tell your dentist about any medication you are taking, your health status and history and the development of any new conditions or symptoms.
What can I do to protect my oral health?
To protect your teeth and gums and the overall health of your mouth, practice good oral hygiene every day. The connection between dental health and overall health cannot be denied and preserving your health by protecting your teeth can start with these simple points:
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste after every meal.
- Floss at least one time each day.
- Eat healthy foods and limit consumption of unhealthy foods.
- Replace your toothbrush after three months of use.
- Keep all scheduled dental appointments.
- Avoid all tobacco use and limit alcohol consumption.
Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health and taking small steps now will save you a lot of pain and suffering down the road.
7 vitamins and minerals your mouth needs
When it comes to protecting your teeth and gums, these powerhouse vitamins and minerals are exactly what your dentist ordered:
- Calcium- famous for building strong bones, it also helps to strengthen teeth.
What to eat: Aside from milk, you can also get some good calcium from most cheese and yogurt, as well as broccoli and salmon.
- Vitamin D- important for everyone, this vitamin helps the body absorb calcium and also helps with cell health and regeneration. What to eat: The body naturally makes Vitamin D when exposed to the sun but fish and mushrooms also have high levels.
- Potassium- this nutrient helps improves bone mineral density and helps regulate the acidity of the body. What to eat: Bananas are the most well-known but you can also eat tomatoes, lima beans, avocados, sweet potatoes, and prunes.
- Phosphorus- Getting enough of this nutrient helps calcium build strong bones and teeth. What to eat: This is perhaps the easiest nutrient to get as it is in many healthy fatty fish, many vegetables, and countless foods we eat regularly.
- Vitamin K- this one acts much like a vitamin as a shield, blocking substances that attack and weaken the bones. What to eat: greens are the best source for Vitamin K and include spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, and collard greens.
- Vitamin C- while too much can erode the enamel of the teeth, not enough vitamin C leads to gum diseases such as scurvy. What to eat: citrus fruits are the obvious choice but potatoes and some vegetables also contain Vitamin C.
- Vitamin A- important in keeping the mucous membranes healthy, this vitamin aids in preventing dry mouth and speeds up healing in the body. What to eat: fatty fish and yellows and orange vegetables are great sources to choose from.
It is important to remain focused when it comes to the connection between dental health and overall health. If you are wanting to find ways to go about preserving your health by protecting your teeth, you need to think about what makes you feel good and what keeps your body in tip top shape. Healthy living is key to keeping your mouth healthy!
The “good guy” foods
Putting the right foods into your body is key to preserving dental health and overall health and can make preserving your health by protecting your teeth much easier!
Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables: Foods that are high in fiber help the mouth by stimulating an increase in saliva flow, which helps aid in the cleaning of the teeth.
- Cheese, milk, dairy products: Teeth are mostly calcium, and without enough coming into the body to maintain tooth density you are at risk for tooth decay.
- Sugarless chewing gum: The act of chewing gum helps wash away food particles and helps boost saliva production and fights gum disease as well.
- Green and black teas: These drinks have been hailed for centuries for their high level of antioxidants and their disease-fighting nutrients and minerals.
The “bad guy” foods
Just as there are good foods that can help keep dental health and overall health at an optimum level, there are foods that will do the exact opposite. Avoiding bad foods will make preserving your health by protecting your teeth an attainable goal.
- Sugary candies and:If you can’t resist the sweets, avoid ones that stick to the teeth or that bathe the teeth in sugar over long periods- lollipops and mints are big no-nos!
- Fast acting carbohydrates:Carbs are natural sugars and can impact the teeth like white sugar does when eaten in large quantities- potatoes chips, cookies, cake, etc.
- Soda: Not only is soda full of sugar but it also is very acidic and tends to stick to teeth where it causes damage over long periods of time to the teeth and the gums.
- Fruit juice: Fruit is good for the body but juice is a super concentrated sugary version of fruit that is bad for teeth- a glass of apple juice is like eating 10 apples!
- Acidic foods:Citrus, peppers, certain spices, and other food and drink are very acidic and can destroy the enamel coating on teeth very quickly.
Make Healthy Choices
There is a lot that is involved with keeping ourselves healthy and the old adage that you are what you eat holds true here. Dental health and overall health are closely and irreversibly connected and the sooner we accept this fact and understand what it means for our health and wellbeing, the sooner we can truly embrace healthy living. Much work is involved in preserving your health by protecting your teeth but it is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself healthy. Choose good healthy foods and drinks- fresh fruits and vegetables, lean healthy meats and fish, and plenty of green tea and water. Avoid sugary and starchy foods and limit your indulgences and cheat days. Brush after every meal whenever possible and floss at least once a day- if this is not possible then rinse well with warm water after every meal. Limit alcohol consumption and do not use any tobacco products. The final thing you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and thus your body as a whole, is to keep all dental appointments so your dentist can help you maintain your dental health and keep tabs on other health issues you may be dealing with.
To learn more about dental health and overall health and how easy preserving your health by protecting your teeth can be with the right help, contact us today at Comfort Care Family Dental! We would love the opportunity to speak with you!
1001 E Chicago Ave #143, Naperville, IL 60540