The benefits of taking care of your mouth are not limited to pearly whites and fresh breath. Oral health is important to general health, and for some surprisingly obvious reasons.
The mouth is one of the few places on the body where pathogens and bacteria come in direct contact with organs, tissues, and open wounds. Even the tiniest scratch or cut on a gum is an open wound, and harmful bacteria can enter directly into the bloodstream. This direct path takes it straight into the body, and in some cases directly to the heart, where it can cause serious heart problems ranging from infection to heart attack and stroke. These cuts are usually the result of poor or inadequate dental care and oral hygiene. Gums in the beginning stages of gingivitis, or its advanced stage, periodontal disease, are particularly prone to bleeding and opening, creating a heightened risk factor. Frequent brushing and flossing, as well as regular trips to the dentist, can help prevent gum disease, and prevent heart associated risks.
Pregnant women should be particularly careful about taking excellent care of their mouths for the same reason. Periodontal disease is associated with increased risk of premature birth and low birth weight, which can cause serious complications for the infant.
Periodontal disease, in addition to heart and pregnancy risks, has been shown to have links to diabetes. Periodontal disease affects blood glucose levels, which in turn worsens diabetes, therefore worsening the periodontal disease. If an individual does not have diabetes, periodontal disease increases his or her risk of developing it. Individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals without, and so diabetics must be sure to take extra good care of their oral hygiene.
On the less extreme end, oral health contributes to how your body absorbs nutrients and plays an important role in nutrition. Proper production of saliva is necessary to break down starches, as well as playing an important overall role in oral hygiene.
In essence, while oral health may seem like a relatively straightforward matter, beginning and ending with brushing and flossing, taking good care of your mouth is a vital step in taking care of the rest of your body. Oral and general health cannot be separated, and taking care of your mouth helps ensure the rest of your body is taken care of, too.