You may have heard your eyes are the window to your soul. But, did you know your mouth is the window to your overall health? Not only does it offer clues to your general nutrition, but it can also reveal signs of illness and disease.
To start, what happens in your mouth affects your entire body. That’s because your mouth is the entry point for your respiratory tract and digestive system. And, since your mouth naturally teems with bacteria, there are plenty of opportunities for it to wreak havoc on your overall health.
Fortunately, taking care of your oral health can also benefit your whole body. So, while you’re taking steps to avoid tooth decay and gum disease, you can also keep your body in peak condition at the same time.
At Advanced Dental Care of Ridgewood, Robert A. Scherrer, DMD, brings more than 35 years of experience to the Ridgewood community of New Jersey. If you want to protect your oral health, Dr. Scherrer recommends adopting these five essential habits.
First and foremost, you can’t skimp on brushing and flossing. This is your first line of defense for ridding your teeth and gums of harmful bacteria.
Your mouth naturally contains bacteria. When bacterial cells build up, they form a sticky substance on your teeth and gums called plaque. If it’s allowed to stay, it can harden into tartar. Over time, this increases your chances of developing oral infections, tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Worse yet, the bacteria can circulate throughout your entire body. This can increase your chances of developing numerous diseases, from heart disease and pneumonia to pregnancy and birth complications.
In addition to brushing and flossing each day, you can also protect your oral health by watching your diet — especially sweets.
It can be tempting to reach for candy, pastries, cookies, and even soft drinks. However, all of those items contain sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. That’s because whenever you consume something sweet, it causes plaque in your mouth to release acid that attacks your teeth. On top of that, if your diet lacks specific nutrients, your body may have a harder time fighting infections, such as gum disease.
To protect your oral and overall health, try to avoid sugary items, and focus on a diet filled with whole-grains, fruits, and veggies. Want even more results? Include lean protein sources, such as fish, skinless poultry, beans, and legumes, and low-fat or fat-free dairy.
Your body needs plenty of water to stay hydrated. But, did you know it can do wonders for your oral health as well?
It’s no secret that water helps flush waste from your system. However, it also helps flush bacteria and food debris from your mouth. Plus, it dilutes any acid that plaque may produce. It also ensures your mouth stays moist by reducing your chances of developing dry mouth.
And there are additional benefits if you drink fluoridated water, which can strengthen your teeth and decrease your risk for tooth decay.
Need another reason to ditch your tobacco habit?
More than 40% of smokers aged 20-64 also have untreated tooth decay. And by the time they reach 65, they’re twice as likely to have untreated tooth decay than those who never smoked. Even more alarming, approximately 43% of smokers age 65 and older have lost all of their teeth.
Whether you use cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, or other types of the substance, this habit can significantly increase your chances of developing oral health problems, from gum disease to cancer.
Finally, even if you follow these first tips to the letter, it’s essential to see your dentist on a regular basis for professional cleanings.
With these visits, Dr. Scherrer can clean hard-to-reach spots, where plaque and tartar can hide. Plus, these visits include an oral exam, during which Dr. Scherrer can catch potential issues.
To get your mouth cleaned and to find out about other ways to protect your oral health, call 201-622-7385 or book an appointment online with Advanced Dental Care of Ridgewood today.