Healthcare decisions and dental decisions are not glamorous, but they are important. More and more evidence shows the impact our oral health—or lack of it—has on our overall health. This means that avoiding the dentist shouldn’t be an option anymore.
Oral health isn’t about having white teeth and good breath. Oral health includes much more than we thought 50 years ago. And the result of maintaining good brushing and flossing goes far beyond just healthy gums and teeth. In fact, health experts now believe that good oral hygiene means good overall health.
How oral health impacts our wellness
A variety of health conditions have been linked to oral health, including diabetes, heart disease, and even osteoporosis. The simple daily task of dental hygiene can help avoid serious chronic conditions and health complications.
Avoiding the dentist can lead to missed early detection of serious health events beyond cavities or gum disease. If U.S. tennis star Nicole Gibbs had skipped her routine appointment, she may not have learned that she had a rare form of salivary gland cancer. Instead, her dentist identified an unusual growth in her mouth, which lead to a biopsy and eventually surgery to remove the tumor.
Other consequences of poor dental health include the inability to chew and swallow food, which can lead to lack of proper nutrition; trouble speaking properly, which can impact personal and professional relationships; and even loss of self-esteem. In fact, 1 in 4 South Dakotans report being embarrassed by the condition of their mouth and teeth, and even avoid smiling.
The Cost of Avoiding the Dentist
There’s also a financial benefit to stop avoiding the dentist. The cost of treating more serious problems is significantly higher than routine preventative dental care.
As you make healthcare decisions, consider the importance of good oral health, too. Make sure you’re keeping your mouth healthy.
Start by creating and keeping a daily oral health routine: brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly. Consume less sugar and drink more water – it’s better for your whole body. Then book that biannual checkup with your dentist.
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