It’s true — but so is the reverse. Not taking care of your teeth can actually lead to a shorter lifespan. When it comes to overall health, the teeth, gums, and health of the mouth are crucial. Today, we have the advantage of cutting-edge science and technology that allow us to prevent and treat some of the diseases that shortened the lives of many of our ancestors. If you’ve ever thought your dentist was overly insistent on your coming into the office and making sure you brush and floss every day, that’s exactly why. Good oral hygiene and regular dentist appointments can easily save — and lengthen — your life.
Take for example the common toothache. For some people, it might seem like no big deal. But what’s vital to remember is that the body is a holistic organism where each part affects the others. Tooth infections, especially those located along the upper teeth, are not far from the brain, and infections can travel. Obviously, a brain infection is much more difficult to treat than a tooth infection, if it’s possible at all —but caught early, a simple tooth infection runs very little risk of affecting the brain.
This is why it’s imperative to see the dentist at the first sign of pain, swelling, or discomfort — and that’s in addition to your regular maintenance routine. Your dentist can save you a significant amount of discomfort and money if you prevent or remedy dental problems before they get out of hand.
In terms of actually increasing your life expectancy, gum disease prevention is key. Unlike a toothache or other trauma to the mouth, you might not be aware you have gum disease unless you’re under the care of a dentist. But just because you’re not experiencing discomfort right now doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Gum, or periodontal disease happens with the chronic presence of plaque along the gumline. Plaque contains harmful bacteria that put your whole immune system at risk. These same bacteria produce products that are linked with heart disease, diabetes, low weight, preterm births and other systemic problems. Likewise, tooth decay can have a similar effect on the mouth, increasing the presence of bad bacteria and putting your entire system at risk.
But don’t let all this talk of disease scare you off. Even though the mouth is a delicate environment that’s particularly susceptible to disease, there’s a silver lining:
Keeping your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy is easy, comfortable, and affordable.
The benefit of regular check-ups and good oral hygiene is that your dentist will be able to correct issues before they turn into major problems. By fixing issues earlier rather than later, you will save yourself the cost and discomfort of taking care of a more serious problem later.
No matter how healthy your mouth is now, we’re all in the same boat. Your teeth and gums require constant maintenance. But the good news is that once you form good habits, keeping your smile in tip-top shape doesn’t feel like work at all. If you start improving your habits now, you’ll have many years to get them down pat until they are as easy and comfortable as breathing.
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