Watch your mouth

Oral health is not only important to your appearance and sense of well-being, but also to your overall health. Cavities and gum disease may contribute to many serious conditions, such as diabetes and respiratory disease, and untreated cavities can be painful and lead to serious infections.

Poor oral health has been linked to sleeping problems, as well as behavioral and developmental problems in children. It can also affect your ability to chew and digest food properly. Researchers are now examining links between poor oral health and heart disease.

Good nutrition is important to help build strong teeth and gums that can resist disease and promote healing. A healthy diet rich in natural vitamins, antioxidants and protein and low in sugar is critical to better oral health.

Smoking is a major risk factor for oral and dental disease, including oral cancer. Tobacco smoke is very harmful to gum tissues and other tissues in your mouth. Toxins in smoke can cause oral cancer and also damage the bone around your teeth, a major cause of tooth loss. In fact, smoking and tobacco products that are chewed or held in the mouth are one of the biggest risk factors for gum disease and perhaps the biggest risk factor for oral cancer.

How to reduce oral health risks

Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums, which may also affect the bone supporting the teeth. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that constantly builds up, thickens and hardens on the teeth. If it is not removed by daily brushing and flossing, this plaque can harden into tartar and may contribute to infections in the gums. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to the loss of teeth and an increased risk of more serious illnesses, such as respiratory disease.

The bacteria in plaque can travel from the mouth to the lungs, causing infection or aggravating existing lung conditions. It creates risks for heart patients, too, as it can travel through the bloodstream and get lodged in narrow arteries, contributing to heart attacks. There also is a link between diabetes and gum disease. People with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease and it can put them at greater risk of diabetic complications.

To maintain good oral health, you should take the following steps:

  • Brush and floss your teeth daily. Using an antimicrobial mouth rinse as well can help to reduce the bacteria in your mouth.
  • Visit your dentist regularly to have your mouth examined. See a dental professional immediately if you notice any problems.
  • Eat a healthy diet, avoid sugar when possible, and avoid drinking or eating near bedtime, especially after brushing.
  • Do not smoke. If you do smoke, make sure to visit your dental professional regularly.
  • If you are pregnant, be sure to eat healthy foods and maintain good oral health.
  • Be sure your children’s teeth are brushed regularly. They should see a pediatric dentist as early as possible.

Good oral health plays a critical role in helping maintain your overall wellness. See your dentist regularly; watch what you eat; and pay attention to what your mouth is telling you!

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Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!