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Dental Hygiene Facts: The Link Between Your Smile and Overall Health

December 07, 2017

You’ve heard it a million times: Brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and visit your dentist every six months. Sticking to those dental health tips does more than just give you fresh breath and pearly whites; it can also protect your overall health. What’s more, a study from University of Tromsø in Norway even found that those who practice good oral hygiene tend to be happier overall.

Oral Hygiene and Your Health

Not taking proper care of your teeth can lead to obvious side effects like yellowing, tooth decay, and gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease. Oral health issues can spread to other seemingly unconnected parts of the body when the bacteria in your mouth reach dangerous levels and move into the bloodstream. That’s when the blood vessels can become inflamed, and the risk of stroke increases. One study published in The BMJ found poor oral hygiene also puts you at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Research shows that other health issues go hand-in-hand with neglecting the toothbrush. Periodontal disease has been linked to diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and increases the risk of having a baby born preterm.

Certain signs signal poor oral health, such as painful gums, bleeding when brushing, receding gum lines, and bad breath that just won’t go away. Any of these could suggest that it’s time to see a dentist.

Good Oral Hygiene and Your Healthcare Plan

The main benefit of being insured is you’ll be protected from expensive bills associated with serious oral health issues. If you need a lot of dental care, insurance could save you from paying out of pocket. Let’s say you need a root canal—you can expect to pay significantly less if you have insurance because most plans cover 50-90% of reparative procedures, after a deductible is met. That same root canal can run up to $700 per tooth for a front tooth and $900 per tooth for a molar, according to NerdWallet.

Be aware that some policies limit how much coverage you can receive during the year, so there’s a possibility all of your procedures won’t be covered. Also, most insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic enhancements, such as veneers. Finally, some insurance plans require a waiting period, sometimes as long as 18 months, before they begin to cover expensive procedures.

Whether you decide to choose dental insurance or not, it’s important to prioritize your oral health to protect your body from other health issues.