Smile! Good Health Starts In Your Mouth

What does good health mean to you? Is it ensuring that you have a healthy diet; eschewing the temptations that seem to assail you every day? There’s no doubt that the allure of the workplace vending machine with its rows of sugary and salty snacks can certainly be strong, especially in the midst of a long and stressful day. A diet that’s rich in whole foods and especially veggies and fruits is undoubtedly an integral part of your overall health, as is having the discipline to turn your back on the foods that you know will do more harm than good. Is it getting plenty of exercise? We all struggle to work it into our busy schedules but when we make the time to exercise, we reap a wide range of benefits. Of course, a slimmer, leaner body is the most obvious, but regular exercise can give a huge boost to our mental health, and even make our bodies think that they’re younger; effectively slowing down the aging process. Perhaps the secret of good health is getting enough sleep? There’s no doubt that sleep is crucially important. After all, it’s when we doze that our bodies carry out the vital repairs and maintenance that are needed to build lean muscle mass, repair damaged tissue and fight off unwelcome infections and illnesses. 

Yet, while all of the above play a vital role in our overall health, there’s one facet that we’re all too quick to overlook… our dental health. Seriously, when was the last time you visited the dentists? Yikes! Dentists have an unfortunate reputation. From childhood we tend to associate them with pain, discomfort, that weird rubbery smell and generally feeling intensely unhappy and uncomfortable. Nonetheless, your dentist is actually one of the most important clinicians when it comes to safeguarding your health. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist don’t worry. They’re not there to berate you or to make you feel like a scared kid again. They’re simply there to help you back on the path to great dental health. See Frasierview Dentist for more information. A good relationship with your dentist can unlock the path to good health in a range of ways. Here we’ll look at all the ways in which your dental health impacts upon your overall health.

Our smile can make a huge difference to our mental health!

Have you ever had a bad time while you were smiling? Of course not, it’s physically impossible! When you smile, it doesn’t just make you look prettier and make other smile back at you (although both are absolutely true), when you smile it sets off a chain reaction within your brain. We may assume that a smile is merely skin deep, but this simple act sends a series of signals to your brain and releases a wave of neuropeptides (tiny molecules that facilitate communication between neurons) which are essential in helping to manage stress. Before we know it, the brain releases a series of neurotransmitters like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin which are the same feel good chemicals secreted when we exercise.

Thus, something a simple as a smile can ease stress, relax the body, lower your heart rate and blood pressure and even relieve pain. The serotonin released when we smile is also a potent natural antidepressant. What’s more, when people smile to one another it makes the world a better and more pleasant place to live in.

The trouble is that if we are feeling self conscious about our teeth it can make us feel far less predisposed to smile. We feel self conscious at the prospect of flashing our crooked, stained or misshapen teeth to the detriment of our self esteem and our mental health. As you can see, the health benefits of something as quotidian as smiling cannot be underestimated. Don’t deprive yourself of them, get in touch with your dentist.

The mouth is the window to the whole body

If the eyes are the window to the soul, surely the mouth is the window to the body. The mouth can be a portal of infection and inflammation. Gum disease is in fact the most common inflammatory disease in the world and research suggests that ongoing inflammation in the mouth and gums can admit other bacteria into the bloodstream leading to inflammation in other areas such as the heart. 

Many are unaware that dentists are not just trained in the healing of teeth and gums. The Canadian Dental Association requires them to be conversant with the workings of the whole body and the role that dental and oral health plays in facilitating good overall health. In many cases, your dentist will be your first line of defense in diagnosing and guarding against a range of serious illnesses. 

Many conditions show symptoms in the mouth and your dentist could be your fastest route to a fast diagnosis and appropriate treatment. They could be the first person to detect a range of diseases with symptoms that manifest in the mouth including;

Diabetes- Diabetes increases the whole body’s risk of infection. In many cases this results in gum disease. Those with diabetes tend to have more severe or more regular bouts of gum disease. Regular periodontal care can be invaluable in managing diabetes.

Heart disease- There’s research to suggest that the inflammations and infections caused by oral bacteria are linked to heart disease, clogged arteries and strokes. 

Osteoporosis- Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bones most common in postmenopausal women. While it does not weaken the teeth themselves, your dentist may notice a weakening of the bones around the teeth that points to osteoporosis.

HIV / AIDS- Mucosal lesions in the mouth are a common symptom of the HIV virus. The earlier HIV is diagnosed, the better chance the patient has of managing this potentially fatal disease and reducing the risk of contracting AIDS. 

Dementia- Those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia tend to suffer from poor self care and hygiene. One of the most commonly neglected areas is oral hygiene and a dentist may be able to spot a correlation between poor oral care and dementia.

Acid reflux- Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a reflux of the stomach acid that usually occurs while we are asleep and thus unaware of it. Usually this will result in an erosion of the teeth, particularly the upper back molars.

Eating disorders- Eating disorders invariably lead to malnutrition which in turn can result in a dry mouth and bleeding gums. Bulimia can also result in a tooth erosion when teeth come into contact with the acids from vomit. If someone you love has an eating disorder the dentist may be the first person to find out about it since those with eating disorders tend to be extremely secretive about it. 

Straight teeth aren’t just a cosmetic thing

We all associate straight, white teeth with the famous Hollywood smile and while there is undeniably something attractive about the appearance of straight, healthy teeth, the benefits go way beyond the cosmetic. Not that boosting self esteem and personal pride aren’t intrinsic benefits in and of themselves.

Straighter teeth are easier to clean and floss meaning that there are no hidden cloisters in your mouth where bacteria can be allowed to breathe despite your brushing. This can prevent the buildup of bacteria which cause bad breath while also reducing your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. In extreme cases it can even lead to mouth sores and eventual tooth loss.

Straighter teeth are also less prone to abnormal tooth wear. It’s common for lower teeth to become crowded and start to jut outwards, misalignment your bite and causing teeth to rub together. This impedes proper chewing function which can impact negatively upon your digestive health. Moreover, it can cause uneven wear in your tooth enamel meaning that you may need expensive crowns or veneers later down the line.

Crooked teeth also place excessive pressure on the jaw, the gums and the surrounding bones which support the teeth. Over time this can cause the jaw to misaligned itself resulting in headaches and even face and neck pain. 

What you can do

As you can see, neglecting your dental and oral health can have a range of ill effects on your overall health, your appearance and your self-image. One thing that’s certain is that poor dental health cannot fix itself. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for a checkup. They may be able to identify a condition which could be exacerbated if you leave it untreated, or they may well give you a completely clean bill of health, leaving you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your mouth is as healthy as it can be. 

If you feel stress or anxiety at the thought of going to the dentist, you are not alone. That’s why your dentist will be able to provide a range of options to help you to feel at ease. Ask your dentist what provision they put in place for patients with anxiety.
Have a great day… And keep on smiling!

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