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Oral health is the window to your overall health. A healthy mouth can indicate a healthy body and vice versa. Improper oral care can lead to significant health problems, particularly when you consider that your mouth is directly connected to both your digestive and respiratory systems. Bad bacteria found in your mouth, if not removed, can cause disease throughout the body.

Conditions Poor Oral Health Can Cause

If you don’t take time to properly care for your mouth, you can cause or contribute to a number of diseases. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart’s chambers or valves caused by oral bacteria spreading through your bloodstream and attaching to the heart. Cardiovascular disease and pneumonia can also be caused, or worsened, by oral bacteria. It can also contribute to pregnancy and birth complications.

Conditions That Affect Oral Health

On the other hand, there are also diseases that can affect your oral health, even if you do everything right. For example, diabetes seems to contribute to gum disease, and diabetics with gum disease tend to struggle more to control their blood sugar. HIV/AIDS can cause mouth lesions. In Alzheimer’s patients, worsening oral health seems to match the mental decline they experience.

Plaque and its Role in Oral Health

When your oral health isn’t up to par, bad bacteria in your mouth can form dental plaque. Dental plaque is a sticky film with no color that attaches to your teeth. The more plaque builds up along the gum line, the more space is created for plaque to form between the gums and the teeth. This leaves you open to infections such as gingivitis, periodontitis, and in the worst case scenario, trench mouth.

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How You Can Protect Your Oral Health

Twice daily brushing and flossing is the first line of defense. Preventative dental care is the next, and perhaps most critical step. This care includes getting cleanings every six months. These cleanings serve two purposes. One is to provide a thorough cleaning of your mouth. The other is it’s an opportunity for a trained professional to identify any problem areas so they can be remedied before they become critical. This is very important because oral infections such as abscesses can impact your overall health and don’t always have obvious symptoms.

Just as you lock the doors to your home to keep intruders out, taking care of your oral health is protection against bacteria that can negatively impact the rest of your body. Taking the time to care for your mouth each day, and schedule appropriate professional care, will benefit you all over.