The benefits of seeing your dentist every six months stretch far beyond simply having healthier, better-looking teeth. Oral health is directly connected to your overall wellbeing. Every time you make a dentist appointment, your chances of enjoying the future increase.

The truth is, some of life’s best rewards will most likely go to people with good oral health. Here are just five rewards, all of which are much harder to get if you don’t take care of your teeth:

1. A Longer Life

happy retirees on the beach

Regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and oral health exams can help keep you smiling for years.

When you see your dentist often, you lower your risk for a large range of ills. If left untreated, oral bacteria causes gum disease and tooth decay. It can even enter the blood and spread plaque through the body.

Depending on your family history, this could put you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, and cancer. It can even lead to diseases like stroke, Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Here’s the thing, though. Oral bacteria are incredibly easy to eliminate. Your dentist can help you to stave off these diseases through regular cleanings. That is, as long as you manage plaque build up by keeping your regular dentist appointments.

2. Higher Income

Research has shown that people with great teeth and smiles are more likely to earn higher salaries and get more job opportunities than people who seem to view their smile as less of a priority. One study used fake job interviews and found that those who had the best smiles were viewed as more confident and skilled.

This isn’t much of a surprise, though. It’s only natural for someone with good oral health to be seen as serious, disciplined, and concerned about his or her effect on others. So, if you want to make your dream job a reality, it can help to keep up with regular dental visits.

3. More Money in the Bank

People with good oral health tend to have lower bills as they get older. The cost of regular dental visits to prevent problems is a fraction of the cost for the type of reactive care patients who have advanced gum disease may need.


Infographic: Prevent vs. Repair – See why it pays to invest in prevention when it comes to protecting your teeth.


4. Less Stress

When you work to address oral health problems head on, there is less need to worry about the state of your teeth. People who never skip the dentist also have to worry less about certain foods or beverages causing pain or long-term damage.

With some types of oral health issues, cold or hot foods or drinks can be a problem. When you see your dentist often, she can help you to manage the effects of sugar, alcohol and caffeine, which may be the cause. Lastly, if you have a lot of stress, your dentist will know, and be able to tell you, what you can do to help.

5. Better Love Life

Not only will people who take care of their teeth stay attractive to their partners, but they will also have less difficulty finding romantic partners. In fact, a 2013 survey of nearly 5,500 single adults ages 21 and older revealed straight, white teeth to be the quality single men and women look for most when choosing a mate.

When you visit the dentist every 6 months, you won’t be as worried about your partner seeking greener pastures. And who knows? You may even be able to win over the object of your affections, regardless of your age.

How Much Brighter Could Your Future Be?

Sounds like a happy life, right? You can gain these rewards and a lot more if you simply go to the dentist and follow through with their advice and care.

Missing just one or two appointments might not seem like a big deal. But as you age, you may grow more conscious of how your teeth look and feel. So think of your long-term health and financial strength, and stick to your regular dental exams!

The observations your dentist makes while examining your teeth aren’t just limited to oral hygiene. Certain oral health problems can actually be early signs of increasingly dire conditions that effect your entire body, even conditions you didn’t know you had.

Good oral health is an indicator of good overall health, significantly decreasing your risk for a wide variety of diseases and disorders, ranging from highly-preventable to life-threatening. The following conditions are just a few that your dentist can detect simply by looking inside your mouth:

 

Excessive Stress

It is extremely common for people to experience high levels of stress, therefore it’s difficult to determine when that level becomes unsafe. One way to tell that stress is on the verge of impacting your overall health is bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding. Bruxism is more frequently observed in patients who have trouble sleeping due to stress, anxiety, or sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

Dentists can detect bruxism when they see a healthy tooth that is smaller and more dull than it should be. “The surfaces of the teeth become flat and the teeth get worn down,” Charles Rankin, DDS and professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, told the Huffington Post.

Your dentist might suggest a night guard to prevent bruxism in addition to exercise or even psychological counseling. Stress management is reportedly the most effective method for eliminating the habit for good.

 

Acid Reflux

Much like severe stress, acid reflux is so widespread that many sufferers don’t even know they have it. Your dentist, however, might confirm your suspicions of the disorder after noticing erosion of tooth enamel and dentine, which is the soft layer beneath the enamel. Acid reflux causes gastric acid, or stomach bile, to move up your esophagus and erode enamel, particularly in the upper back molars.

An excessive amount of saliva could clue your dentist in to acid reflux as well. This symptom involves the same nerves and reflexes as vomiting, since the body is trying to flush out something that is irritating your esophagus.

 

Excessive Drinking

Your dentist will be one of the first people to notice you are drinking too much. A number of observations could lead to this conclusion, but the most common is the decline of previously good oral hygiene habits. Alcohol inhibits the production of saliva, causing the mouth to dry out. Without saliva, oral bacteria does not get washed away and can therefore result in myriad conditions and oral problems, beginning with cavities.

When a patient who used to possess good oral health suddenly begins to develop high levels of plaque or gum disease, the early stages of alcoholism might be the culprit. Both of these symptoms evolve at a faster pace than usual in patients who increase their alcohol consumption.

 

Diabetes

A string of oral health problems, such as gum disease, bleeding gums, enamel erosion, or loose teeth, is an indicator of diabetes. “Among people that are unaware of whether they have diabetes or not, poor gum status has been shown to be associated with diabetes,” Panos Papapanou, DDS and professor of dental medicine at Columbia University told the Huffington Post. “This is a pretty critical situation in which a dentist can help to identify undiagnosed diabetes.”

Diabetics are reportedly three times more likely to experience the most severe type of gum disease. Bacterial infections can also worsen other diabetic symptoms and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. These outcomes can be prevented through regular dental visits, since cleanings stop bacteria from getting under the gums.

 

Wouldn’t You Rather Not Deal With These Problems At All?

It’s very important to tell your dentist about any oral problems you are having, even those that seem relatively negligible. You’d be surprised to learn that the dentist can bestow more advice than just brushing or flossing.

Should your dentist have reason to suspect the presence of one of the aforementioned conditions, it should be taken as a warning that your overall health is at risk unless you seek further treatment. For those who don’t want to develop the conditions in the first place, you can begin by visiting the dentists every six months, a major step towards living a longer and healthier life.