How Your Mouth is a Snapshot of Your Health

The eyes might be the window to your soul, but the mouth gives a pretty good peek into your health. While the dentist might not be able to give you a personality profile based on your molars, the mouth can be a snapshot of your overall health and can give a warning of more serious problems.

How does this work? Bacteria and inflammation. Our bodies are full of bacteria and most of them are good. Most bacteria enter our bodies through our mouths. But, there can be an overgrowth of the bad kind of bacteria and that will cause inflammation. Inflammation in the mouth can look like gum disease, cavities, or periodontal disease.

But, if there is inflammation in the mouth, that means there can be inflammation in other parts of your body. That inflammation can also go by these names:

  • Endocarditis: Anytime you see -itis at the end of a word, it means inflammation or infection. This particular type is an inflammation of the tissue of the heart. That sounds important, right? It can be caused by several things, but one cause can be that the bacteria of the mouth has spread through the bloodstream and landed here.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Although the link is unclear, inflammation and plaque in the mouth is often a sign of plaque in the heart. Perhaps plaque is plaque and if it grows in one place it will grow in another. It’s just a good idea to keep plaque off your teeth and, hopefully, out of your arteries.
  • Pregnancy: No, cavities will not get you pregnant. What a relief! But, if you are pregnant, your oral health can impact your pregnancy. Again, it all comes down to inflammation. Periodontitis has been linked to low birth weights and premature births. No reason to worry or panic, but just another reason to take care of that mouth.

If we have made our case that oral health matters more than just having a nice smile, what is next? We have put together a list of ten ways to improve your dental health and sharpen the focus on the snapshot of your health. These probably won’t be revelations, but we can hopefully give some new insights or ideas!

1. Brush

Yep, we will start with the basics. Get a good soft toothbrush, electric if possible, and brush twice a day, for one to two minutes. Pay attention to the gum line and brush each section of the mouth equally. A timer can help. There are even some apps that connect to smart toothbrushes and track your brushing habits with games.

2. Mouthwash

Sometimes mouthwash is just a quick breath freshening rinse, and that’s a great idea. But, it can do more. It can rinse away food that brushing missed and can kill harmful bacteria.

3. Floss

Another oldie but goldie. Bacteria thrives in between your teeth and brushing just can’t reach them. Mouthwash might not flush it out either. Flossing can. There are all kinds of styles of floss, just find one that works for you. Imperfect flossing is far better than no flossing.

4. Don’t Forget the Tongue

Every surface in your mouth is happier if it is clean. Sometimes the teeth get all the attention, but our tongues work pretty hard and can get grimy. There are tongue scrapers you can use, but also just adding a few moments to your brushing routine for a good tongue brushing is a great start.

5. See the Dentist

Sure, we are a bit biased, but it really is a good idea to check in regularly with the dentist. Not only does this encourage accountability in your habits (you know how good it feels when you get complimented on your teeth!), but it gives you a chance for a professional to take a look and spot any problem spots or potential issues.

6. Drink More Water

While the body has a system for natural cleaning: saliva, there’s no harm in helping the body along. Water washes away sugar and bacteria and helps keep everything clean and healthy. It is also good for the rest of your body.

7. Drink Less of Everything Else

Soda, juice, and even milk have sugar in them, some more than others. When you chug those all day you are bathing your mouth in sugar. That’s less than ideal. Try to increase your water intake and lower your “other” intake. Start small. If you don’t want to decrease your soda count, fine. Just start by adding some water after each soda. Every little change adds up.

8. Chew Gum

It’s not just good for bubbles. Sugar-free gum fires up the saliva factory in your mouth, which moves food around and rinses the bacteria away. Chewing sugar-free gum between meals is a great way to “brush” a few times a day.

9. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables (Especially Raw Ones)

Apples, carrots, and celery are like hitting the gym for your teeth. Raw fruits and vegetables strengthen and clean the teeth. They keep working hard after you’ve swallowed. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that help your mouth, and the rest of you, stay healthy.

10. Eat Less of the Other Stuff

Again, no reason to just eat carrots and cucumbers all day, but try to squeeze in more produce and less junk. Sugar is a known enemy to teeth, but processed foods are also dangerous. Most processed foods are laced with sugar. Again, every small shift makes a difference. Perhaps start with adding more healthy food in and don’t worry about removing anything yet. Don’t make such huge changes that you feel scared.

The last thing we need on the internet is more to worry about. There is no need to panic or feel guilty about our dental habits. Start with one thing on this list and try to make one positive shift. Then, when that feels easy, pick a new habit. One step, one day at a time, you’ll get healthier. If nothing else, just set a dentist appointment in Douglasville or visit a walk-in dental clinic. That’s a great place to start!

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