Healthcare decisions and dental decisions are not glamorous, but they are important. We continue to see more and more evidence supporting the impact our oral health—or lack thereof—has on our overall health. This means that avoiding the dentist shouldn’t be an option for us anymore.
Oral health isn’t about having white teeth and good breath. Oral health covers so much more of our mouths that we thought 50 years ago. And the result of maintaining good brushing and flossing stretches far beyond just healthy gums and teeth. In fact, health experts now believe that with good oral hygiene comes good overall health.
How Oral Health Impacts our Wellness
A variety of health conditions have been linked to our oral health including diabetes, heart disease, and even osteoporosis. The simple daily task of maintaining good oral health can help us avoid serious chronic conditions and overall health complications.
On top of this, avoiding the dentist can lead to missed early detection of health events originating in the mouth. If U.S. tennis star Nicole Gibbs had skipped her routine appointment, she may not have learned that she had a rare form of salivary gland cancer. Instead, her dentist identified an unusual growth in her mouth, which lead to a biopsy and eventually surgery to remove the tumor. She returned to action in time for Wimbledon.
Other consequences of poor dental health include the inability to chew and swallow food, which can lead to lack of proper nutrition; trouble speaking properly, which can impact personal and professional relationships; and even loss of self-esteem.
Poor oral health affects us at every age. Pregnancy and oral health are tightly intertwined. “Pregnancy gingivitis” and hormonal changes in the mouth can worsen oral and overall health. Pregnant women suffering from periodontitis may be at a higher risk of complications, too. Studies of women with periodontitis, or severe gum inflammation, while pregnant found that it’s linked to preterm birth and low birth weight. Higher levels of bad bacteria in the mother’s mouth can also lead to increased cavities in the infant.
The Cost of Avoiding the Dentist
There’s also a financial benefit to stop avoiding the dentist. The cost of treating more serious illnesses is significantly higher than routine preventative dental care.
As you approach your healthcare decisions, consider the significance of maintaining good oral health, too. Make sure you’re actively taking steps to keep your mouth healthy.
Start by creating a solid daily oral health routine, like brushing twice a day and flossing regularly. Then book that biannual checkup with your dentist.