young woman enjoying the summer wear a big hatYou might think that going to your dentist is only good for your teeth and gums. But the truth is that regular dental visits to maintain good oral health can have a huge impact on your overall health. 

This makes regular dental care an essential part of your preventive health program, and it can help you reduce your risk of needing to go to the hospital related to other critical health problems. Here are five of the ways that good oral health makes you healthier. 

Reduced Risk of Infection

Oral bacteria are the cause of most oral health problems, including gum disease and tooth decay. Once bacteria establish large populations in your mouth, they can travel from there to other parts of your body. 

This can lead to serious, even deadly infections in the sinuses, the blood (causing sepsis), or the brain. Oral bacteria have been found to be a major contributor to pneumonia. 

Some people believe that oral infections can contribute to the failure of joint implants, but the evidence is contradictory. Some studies show oral bacteria around failed joint implants, but others do not. 

Keeping oral infections under control can reduce the risk of these other infections. 

Less Inflammation

Whether or not oral bacteria travel to other parts of the body, inflammation in the mouth contributes to systemic inflammation. Inflammation is an immune response that can be beneficial in fighting infection, but can also have complications, ranging from weight gain to cancer and dementia. 

When your body is fighting constant infection in the mouth, the immune system releases numerous inflammatory compounds. This leads to high levels of inflammation throughout the body. 

Keeping oral infections under control can reduce your body’s overall inflammation level, which makes it easier to stay healthy and avoid potentially serious risks. 

Healthy Immune System

As we noted above, fighting the chronic inflammation in the mouth puts your immune system at a constant state of alertness. This reduces the readiness of your immune system for dealing with new threats. 

However, the risks are even more serious, because oral bacteria have methods of subverting your immune system. Sometimes, oral bacteria release compounds that “blind” your immune system to threats. This means they can’t see the oral bacteria, but it might also make it harder for them to detect other threats, such as cancerous cells. 

In extreme cases, oral bacteria can even convince your immune cells to attack your body, causing autoimmune diseases. This has been documented in the link between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, where your immune system attacks your joints. 

Keeping oral infections under control helps keep your immune system fit for fighting other infections in the body.

Healthy Blood Vessels

Oral bacteria regularly pass from your gums into your bloodstream. We mentioned above the extreme case of sepsis. But even if the infection doesn’t rise to that level, it can have serious consequences. Often, oral bacteria begin to colonize your blood vessels, where they contribute to the plaque that leads to hardened arteries. 

Living oral bacteria are found in arterial plaque, and special fats produced by these bacteria make a significant contribution to clogged arteries. Over the long run, this contributes to your risk of heart disease and stroke. 

Getting regular dental checkups and professional cleanings is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Balanced Diet

Oral health problems can make it hard to eat a balanced diet. When your teeth and gums hurt, it can make you give up the foods that hurt the most. Unfortunately, these are usually fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as unprocessed meats, like steak or pork. 

Instead, people lean on a diet of processed foods that are softer, but are also higher in fat, sugar, and additives. 

Maintaining good oral health makes your teeth fit for their main task of eating good, healthy food. 

 Let Us Take Care of You

If you are in the Summerlin area and are looking for a dentist who can help you maintain good oral health, we invite you to join our dental family. In addition to regular dental care, we utilize preventive products to help you do a better job maintaining oral health at home. 

Please call (702) 873-0324 today for an appointment at the office of Dr. James B. Polley.