Main Content
Living Healthy

5 Things That Will Change the Way You Think About Brushing and Flossing

August 13, 2018
Good oral hygiene keeps your smile bright and your breath fresh, but did you know it’s also connected to your overall health? The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) warns of the dangers of oral infections from periodontal or gum disease, because they can contribute to a number of serious illnesses and health conditions. This infographic provides 5 dental health facts to show how your oral health affects your overall health in surprising ways.

Infographic Text

Americans Need Some Oral Help

Many of us have oral health problems, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • More than 1 in 4 or 27 percent of adults have untreated tooth decay.
  • Nearly half of all adults (46 percent) aged 30 years or older show signs of gum disease.
  • Severe gum disease affects about 9 percent of adults.
Poor Oral Health is Bad for the Whole Body

According to the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), studies show a link between poor oral health and serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, certain cancers, and even complications during pregnancy.

Oral health problems can also contribute to sleep apnea, TMJ, and sometimes even headaches and migraines.

Bacteria and Plaque Hurt the Mouth and Body

You can protect your oral health and your overall health, by being proactive about preventing dental disease. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), approximately 100 million Americans skip seeing a dentist each year.

Understand that plaque builds tartar that causes tooth decay and gum disease. To help prevent plaque buildup, the ADA recommends you should:

  • brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • floss daily
  • visit your dentist every 6 months
  • replace your toothbrush every three or four months
Bad Breath Can Mean Gum Disease

Did you know that chronic bad breath can be a sign of gum disease? According to the AAOSH, the same chemicals that cause bad breath also cause the breakdown of gum tissue. This "opens a door" and can allow bacteria and toxins to get into the tissue of your gums and then into your body’s circulatory system.

Lifestyle Choices Play a Big Part

Eating excess sugar can cause cavities, which can lead to a serious infection that affects your whole body. Oral cancer—of the mouth, lips or tongue--is a major risk if you use smokeless tobacco such as snuff or chewing tobacco. Tobacco use in general is also a risk for gum disease.Drink more water, eat a well-balanced diet, and choose limited, healthy snacks such as protein or fruits and vegetables.

Overall Health Affects Gum Disease

A serious health condition may affect your oral health as well. For example, you have a higher chance of developing gum disease if you have inflammatory conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.

Medications for a bodily condition—not just oral—can affect oral health. The American Dental Association says:

  • Aspirins or anticoagulants may cause bleeding during oral surgery or periodontal treatments.
  • Cardiovascular agents, central nervous system stimulants and respiratory inhalants can affect taste.
  • Blood pressure medications, immunosuppressants and oral contraceptives may cause discomfort from soft tissues in the mouth.

Ask your dentist what other precautions you can take to protect your oral health.