This is the time of year when many of us are concerned with the cold and flu, and with good reason! But when you get right down to it, every season brings with it some sort of illness, and even summer colds are unfortunately common. While there is no hard evidence that brushing and flossing (along with regular trips to your Overland Park dentist) can help ward off colds or the flu, it is widely known that healthy teeth and gums can prevent gum disease and decrease your chances of some other systemic ailments. So it’s always a good idea to brush and floss regularly while also maintaining a healthy diet, which is not only good for your teeth and gums, but for your overall health, as well!
Of course, brushing and flossing your teeth can help prevent everything from stained teeth to cavities to gum disease and gingivitis. Those are the obvious culprits that we think about when we consider the benefits of better oral hygiene and trips to see our Overland Park dentist. But while it may not save you from the flu, it does turn out that good oral hygiene has other health benefits, as well.
Periodontitis, better known as chronic gum inflammation, can open your mouth (no pun intended) to allow a lot of bacteria to enter your bloodstream and the rest of your body. For example, a recent study conducted by the Yale University School of Medicine found that better oral hygiene could help protect against bacterial pneumonia. What’s more, that same bacteria flooding into your bloodstream can eventually make its way to the heart, which can contribute to the risk of heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death in America.
How does it happen? Think of the plaque build-up that you can get when you don’t brush or floss regularly. That plaque is made up of bacteria, and if enough of that bacteria builds up in your mouth, it can lead to inflammation or infection, which allows the bacteria to get past your mouth’s defenses and into your bloodstream, leading to problems in other parts of your body. Of course, plaque in your mouth causes enough problems on its own without you having to worry about it spreading to your heart or other organs, so there are plenty of good reasons to brush and floss regularly, and to make sure you see your Overland Park dentist.
Will it help you fight off the flu or a bad cold? Probably not, but it can certainly defend you against other ailments and help keep your teeth and gums in great shape! If you do get stuck with a bad cold this winter, don’t forget to continue to take good care of your teeth. Stay hydrated, and choose sugar-free cough drops when you go to the pharmacy. And don’t forget to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick to avoid re-infecting yourself! The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, so it might be time for a new one anyway.
Want to learn more about how good oral hygiene helps protect your overall health, or just want some more tips on how to care for your teeth when you’re ill? Contact Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 or schedule an appointment with your Overland Park dentist today!