When the topic of health is raised, many subtopics spring to mind – pain, chronic disease, prevention, our healthcare system, cancer, natural vs. drug therapy, etc.
Unless you’re a dentist, most of us never equate our overall health with the quality of our oral health. That’s where most of us are missing the big story.
In a word, oral health is under-appreciated. Multiple times every day we eat, drink and talk without thinking twice about our oral hygiene. We might worry about bad breath before a job interview or you might check for parsley after lunch, but that’s about it.
If that thought grosses you out, I’m sorry, but you’re in the minority. The Canadian Health Measures Study reports that most of us ignore the basics – 27% don’t brush twice daily, 72% don’t floss daily, 12% report ongoing pain in their mouth. Yuck! Makes you want to stop and think twice before swapping spit with your Friday-night date.
Basic oral health is important because strong gums, strong teeth and lack of pain allow us the freedom to enjoy a variety of foods. Eating right maintains our physical health and supports our innate immune defenses. Also, enjoying our food improves our emotional and mental health. Eating good food makes us feel good. The reverse is also true.
Over the long-term, maintaining a naturally healthy bacteria flora in your mouth is critical to whole-body health. The bacteria in our mouths are our immune system’s first line of defense. The mouth is filled with viciously effective bacteria designed to be lethal to unwanted viruses and bacteria. Just like there are good-for-you-pro-biotics in your gut to help you digest your food, there are billions of good-for-you-bacteria in your mouth to keep out the really nasty stuff.
Everyday basic oral hygiene helps to keep all this good-for-you-bacteria in balance. If your teeth are healthy, you’ll have fewer cavities and less pain. If your gums stay strong, you’ll lost fewer teeth over time. If your bacteria flora is healthy, you won’t get sick as often.
If you keep what’s in your mouth healthy, what’s in your mouth will help keep you healthy.