Can dental problems cause health problems?

Many people ask, “Can dental problems cause health problems?” That’s a fair question. The simple answer is, “Yes.” But you might be surprised at just how closely related the two truly are.

A large amount of evidence shows the risks that go with poor oral health. Having bad teeth can affect your health in more ways than one. That’s because, if they enter your bloodstream, oral bacteria can inflame other body parts. Moreover, if you ignore oral health concerns, harm to overall health can take place quickly.

What kinds of health problems do bad teeth cause? The risks for heart disease, diabetes, stroke and Alzheimer’s all increase when oral infections spread through the body. Scientists also know: when dentists remove plaque from teeth, the body works better.

What about mental health?

The oral and mental health link is sometimes hard to see. However, in 2017, Hollywood actor Demi Moore talked about her experience with anxiety and oral health. While chatting with Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, Moore told of her personal fight with bruxism, which she said had destroyed several of her teeth.

Recently, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, looked at middle-aged oral health. The study found that 1 in 3 Americans in the 50-64 age range feel embarrassed by their teeth. In addition, 51% face the anxiety of not knowing how they’ll get dental insurance after 65.

Moreover, 13% of the sample said they were counting on Medicare or Medicaid to cover oral care needs after age 65. Yet, traditional Medicare does not cover the cost of routine dental work. Medicaid coverage for dental care is, sadly, often limited.

Can dental problems cause health problems? You bet they can.

Can dental problems cause health problems?

There’s no doubt about it: a close link exists between oral health and overall health.

There is little room for doubt that oral health affects far more than just your teeth. Looked at the other way around, oral health can help ensure overall health. Oral health starts with regular dental hygiene. However, it doesn’t stop there. A regular dental checkup is vital.

The observations your dentist makes during a checkup aren’t just limited to oral hygiene. Simply by looking in your mouth, your dentist can tell whether you’ve been under excessive stress, suffer acid reflux, drink excessively, are at risk for diabetes, and a host of other issues.

The benefits of oral health are things we all want. A longer life, higher income, more money in the bank, less stress and a better love life are all linked to oral health.

Make Your Oral Health a Priority

So, if you haven’t made a resolution for the new year, how about this: Resolve to make 2018 your year of oral health. Your heart will thank you, your waistline may thank you – who knows, your lover may even find a special way to thank you.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy New Year!

Read next: 5 Reasons Healthy Smiles Lead to Success

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