4 Ways a Healthy Smile Equals a Healthy Body
Have you ever heard that oral health is the gateway to overall health? It’s true, and it makes sense when you start to think about it. Whether you eat too little, too much, or an unbalanced diet, the foods you eat can impact your weight, blood pressure, glucose levels, and more. Smoking or chewing tobacco can damage your lungs, leading to lung cancer or death. So it only stands to reason that if you have an unhealthy smile, it can have negative consequences on your overall health. And if you have a healthy smile, it can equal a healthy body, too.
Why you should have a healthy smile.
If you think about it, achieving a happy and healthy smile isn’t all that difficult. You’re in pretty good shape if you brush your teeth twice daily, floss daily, and rinse with fluoridated mouthwash. And when you combine that excellent oral care routine at home with visits to your dentist every six months for a professional dental cleaning and oral evaluation, all the better.
But many people think all those efforts to protect their smiles are just that—efforts to protect them. Yet there is more to it than that. Here’s what you need to know.
1. A happy smile is directly linked with your mental health.
When was the last time you smiled at someone? Think about it, and if you can’t remember, get out of your chair now and find someone to smile at. How did it make you feel? The very process of smiling probably made you feel good. This is because smiling releases tiny molecules in your brain called neuropeptides. These molecules help you fight off stress.
Other neurotransmitters are also released, such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. These natural happy chemicals help fight pain and serve as antidepressants, helping you to feel better. But one of the coolest benefits to smiling is that the very act is contagious. When you smile at someone, it is highly probable they’ll smile back and feel all those good feelings that you did too.
2. A better bite and jaw alignment can relieve jaw pain.
Have you ever felt jaw pain when you eat? Or do you find it uncomfortable to chew on one side of your mouth versus the other? This could be because you have a malocclusion (bad bite) or your jaw is out of alignment. When your teeth do not come together as they should, it can impact your ability to chew and speak normally. And, unfortunately, this can cause excessive wear and tear on the enamel of your teeth, making you more susceptible to tooth decay. Further, if your bite is out of alignment, it can lead to jaw pain too.
Your dentist can help you achieve a better bite and realign your jaw using orthodontics. If you didn’t have orthodontic work as a child, you should know it isn’t too late to be treated now.
3. Open-mouth breathing is linked to other oral health problems.
Our bodies are designed to breathe through our noses. Our noses help filter out environmental toxins, serve as a natural humidifier for our bodies, and more. But when we are stuffed up or have another health condition that keeps us from breathing through our noses, we are forced to take in and expel air through our mouths. Not only does mouth breathing require more effort and is more taxing on the body, it can create the following negative outcomes.
- Crowded teeth.
- Cracked lips.
- Increased likelihood of developing a cavity.
- Gum disease and, eventually, periodontitis.
- Digestive issues.
- Morning headaches.
- Sore throat.
If you find that you are breathing through your mouth, it is recommended you speak to your doctor or dentist to determine a treatment strategy.
4. Gum disease has a systemic health connection.
According to the American Dental Association, advanced periodontal disease is associated with several health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. Gum disease is associated with inflammation in the mouth, and when inflammation exists anywhere in your body, the immune system activates your white blood cells that communicate to your body something is wrong. Those white blood cells, also called infection-fighting cells, make their way through your bloodstream, traveling to all body parts. However, inflammation increases your likelihood of developing the following health issues:
- Heart disease.
- High blood pressure.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
Take care of your healthy smile so you can have a healthy body.
As modern medicine evolves, more correlations between systemic health conditions and oral health problems arise. But one thing remains steady—taking care of your mouth and preventing your risks of tooth decay and gum disease can keep you healthier. To protect your mouth and gums, be sure to do the following:
- Practice good home care, including brushing twice daily, flossing once daily, and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash.
- Eat a well-balanced diet high in tooth-friendly foods, such as lean proteins, calcium-rich foods, fatty fish, and crunchy green vegetables.
- Learn if orthodontics can help you or your child achieve a straighter smile that is easier to clean and keep free of bacteria.
- Schedule an appointment with a good, comprehensive dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and oral examination.
If you are overdue for your dental cleaning, there is no time like the present to request an appointment with Compass Dental Group. We look forward to seeing you and helping you achieve a happy and healthy smile.