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Beyond a Pretty Smile: 9 Surprising Health Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene 一 brushing, flossing, and receiving routine dental cleanings 一  goes a long way in keeping your pearly whites bright. But good oral hygiene does more than just keep your smile pretty. Dr. Constantina Bacopoulou and her team here at Carnegie Dental Wellness in Midtown West Manhattan, New York, want you to know that good oral hygiene can provide these nine health benefits.

1. Reduced risk for heart attack

One of the biggest effects of poor oral hygiene is that bacteria continue to accumulate in your mouth. Bacteria (and the acid it secretes) are notorious for eating away at your enamel, causing cavities, and contributing to gum disease. Unfortunately, bacteria aren’t confined to your mouth, and if bacteria is left unchecked, it can spread to other parts of your body, including your bloodstream. The bacteria cause inflammation, which can eventually narrow your blood vessels and lead to heart attacks. 

According to the American College of Cardiology and a study published in the journal Circulation, gum disease is a big risk factor for heart attacks 一 raising your risk by as much as 50%!

Good oral hygiene can reduce bacteria in your mouth and reduce your risk of gum disease. In other words, good oral hygiene reduces your risk of heart attacks related to gum disease.

2. Healthier lungs

Your bloodstream isn’t the only part of your body affected by bacterial overgrowth in your mouth. Studies show that bacteria in your mouth (especially from gum disease) can contribute to respiratory issues, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

3. Reduced risk of developing diabetes

Exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a balanced diet are three strategies for reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies suggest, though, that good oral hygiene (specifically avoiding gum disease) can reduce your risk of diabetes. Gingivitis increases your risk of diabetes by 40% and periodontitis increases it by 50%.

4. Reduced risk of pancreatic cancer 

Gum disease doesn’t just increase your risk of diabetes or heart attacks. It also increases your risk of pancreatic cancer. Keeping gum disease at bay can help reduce your risk of periodontitis-related pancreatic cancer.

5. Reduced risk of oral cancer

Practicing good oral hygiene also reduces your risk of oral cancer. Good hygiene is just as much about what you do as what you don’t do一 and that includes avoiding smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco. 

6. Decreased chance of infertility

Believe it or not, good oral hygiene supports healthy reproductive function. Studies show that women free from gum disease achieve pregnancy faster, and men have better sperm health.  

7. Safer pregnancy

Not only does good oral health help you achieve pregnancy, it also supports healthier pregnancies. Studies indicate that poor oral health increases your risk of having a low birth weight baby and preterm birth.

8. Improved weight loss success

Are you trying to shed a few pounds but struggle with snack temptations? Brush your teeth! This signals to your brain that you’re done eating and reduces the urge to snack. 

9. Improved mental health

Oral health doesn’t just affect your physical health, but it can affect your mental wellness, too. Sticking with a good oral care routine helps you avoid the stress anxiety of dealing with dental issues, like cavities, toothaches, and gum disease. Good oral hygiene (including fresh breath) also increases your self-confidence at home and at work.

Get back on track today

It’s not too late to adopt new healthy habits. Good oral hygiene includes:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for a full two minutes
  • Flossing daily
  • Avoiding bad habits such as chewing on pens or using your teeth as tooths
  • Using mouthwash 
  • Scheduling regular dental cleanings
  • Receiving routine oral cancer screenings

Overdue on a cleaning? Give us a call at 646-453-4770 or use our online scheduling system to request an appointment today.