Fitness Facts: Healthy mouth for a healthy body

By Cyndi Braun
Nurse Practitioner, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic

In addition to eating well, exercising and overall caring for your body, taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums should be included in your health goals. Good oral health can help prevent bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay and help you keep your natural teeth as you age.

In addition to keeping a healthy smile, brushing and flossing regularly can help ward off medical problems. An unhealthy mouth, especially gums, can increase risk of heart attack, stroke, preterm labor and, if you have diabetes, can make it harder to control.

Many conditions can cause signs and symptoms in your mouth. The mouth can be a window into what’s going on inside your body. Conditions such as AIDS or diabetes are often first apparent in the mouth, appearing as lesions or other oral problems. The Academy of General Dentistry states “more than 90% of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.” (JADA, 563)

General home oral health care recommendations include:

  • Brushing teeth twice a day
  • Flossing at least once per day
  • See your dentist every six months
  • Limit sugary beverages and snacks
  • Stop smoking or vaping nicotine
  • Remove oral piercings (the metal chips away tooth enamel, leaving them vulnerable to cavities)

There are specific issues associated with nicotine use and, particularly, the high doses of nicotine in vape products. Nicotine decreases blood flow to the gums (and the entire body), causing death of the gum tissues and forcing them to recede. Nicotine also prevents saliva production, which can lead to bacteria buildup, dry mouth and tooth decay. If you grind your teeth, nicotine can make this problem worse, leading to significant tooth damage.

If you have been neglecting your oral hygiene, schedule a dental checkup and be sure to tell your dentist about any changes in your overall health, particularly any recent illness or chronic conditions. Be sure to include any medications or tobacco/nicotine use.

Reference materials:

https://www.deltadentalwa.com/blog/entry/2018/06/ecigarettes-vaping-dental-health

http://jada.ada.org

www.uptodate.com

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Bible Verse

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14)

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