We’ve known that oral health is an essential aspect of our overall general health for a long time. In the early 1980s, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop coined the phrase, “You’re not healthy without good oral health.” Yet, 34 million school hours are lost every year due to unexpected (emergency) dental treatments, losing approximately $45 billion in productivity due to poor oral care.

The Connection Between Oral Health and Our Overall Health

Our oral health vastly influences our overall health. Think of your body as a machine. Like any machine, if one part goes down, the rest falters. Plus, our mouths are filled with nasty bacteria. Good oral care and our body’s immune defenses keep these ugly bacteria at bay. Poor oral health can lead to tooth decay and gum inflammation. Gum inflammation, on and off, is followed by plaque buildup. That buildup weakens our body’s defenses allowing some of those harmful bacteria to slip into our bloodstream, causing illness elsewhere in the body. There are several conditions you might not know are connected to poor oral care. They are:

• Heart Disease/Stroke – In some cases, gum disease may be linked to the overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth (gingivitis). This inflammation may lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, increasing the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.
• Respiratory Disease: Bad oral hygiene can lead bacteria to go into the lungs and create plaque buildup. As a result, your lungs stiffen, and you become more susceptible to respiratory infections.
• Dementia: Swollen gums tend to emit a chemical that affects the brain. This chemical can kill brain cells, which, may cause memory loss. Worse, it has the potential to cause Alzheimer’s disease.
• Improper diet: If a child does not eat properly, they may lack the nutrients necessary for a healthy mouth. Oral disease leads to difficulty chewing and to a diet that lacks proper nutrition.

Poor oral healthcare can hinder a child’s school performance and speech. That is why dentistry for children is so important.

Keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy prevents further health complications in your child. So, it’s essential to get your child’s dental check-ups at least twice per year. Your child’s oral health affects their overall health. Boost your child’s emotional, physical, and mental health by ensuring that their oral health is in good oral standing.

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