Your mouth plays a major role in your overall health.

Your immune system is always at work, protecting your body from invaders and keeping you healthy. As you near retirement age, your risks for various oral and overall health issues increase, so it’s wise to begin educating yourself on what you can do to stay healthy. Two of the most important influences on your immune system are also some of the most neglected: your spine and your mouth.

Thankfully, this is changing as doctors begin to recognize and educate patients about the important role that your spine and mouth each play in your immune system and in helping to maintain your short- and long-term health. If you’re hoping to give your immune system a boost, here’s a breakdown on how focusing on maintaining a healthy mouth will help you maintain a healthy body. You’ll also find tips on what you can do to improve your oral health for years to come.

Understanding the role of your oral health in the health of your entire body.

It’s easy to think of your mouth as isolated from the rest of your body. The truth is that it’s just as connected as your stomach or your heart is. When your mouth is unhealthy, it affects the rest of your body, sometimes in quite surprising ways. You can inhale oral bacteria, introducing it into your lungs and increasing your chances of getting respiratory illnesses like pneumonia. You may not realize that it can also find its way into your bloodstream, where it can cause a wide range of health problems.

A few of these problems include potentially life-threatening infections in other parts of your body.  These include high blood pressure, an increased chance of heart disease or stroke, difficulty controlling existing cases of diabetes, and even pregnancy complications. Additionally, your oral health has a direct impact on your immune system. There’s evidence that oral bacteria attack immune cells directly, destroying their ability to defend your body against damage. This results in constant low-level inflammation and can give other diseases, and potentially even cancer, the chance to take root.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is the key to a healthy mouth.

Thankfully, the secret to keeping your mouth healthy is relatively simple: practice good oral hygiene and visit Dr. Bentz every six months for a preventative appointment. Good oral hygiene is as simple as brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste for two minutes twice a day.  Also make sure that you floss and use mouthwash at least once a day. If regular floss is difficult for you to hold, try using a water flosser instead. These simple daily habits are often enough to protect your oral health from major issues, though it’s also wise to make sure you’re also sticking to a healthy diet.

There are pre-existing health conditions that can increase your likelihood of suffering from cavities or gum disease. Make sure you discuss these issues with Dr. Bentz. He can help you decide if you need to take additional steps to protect your oral health, such as seeing him more frequently or using a specialized mouthwash. Putting in the little extra effort to care for your teeth on a daily basis and visiting the dentist regularly is worth it. It is much easier—not to mention less expensive—than needing major dental treatments like a root canal, tooth extraction, or dental implant down the line.

Replacing lost teeth restores their functionality, health, and appearance.

In addition to affecting the appearance of your smile, losing a tooth has both immediate and long-term impacts on the functionality and health of your teeth. It becomes harder to bite off or chew food on the affected side of your mouth. If you lose multiple teeth and start avoiding eating healthy but hard foods like fruits and vegetables, this can even impact your diet and overall health. Additionally, losing a tooth directly results in oral health issues like bone loss in your jaw and your teeth shifting to fill the gap. This makes them harder to clean and therefore vulnerable to cavities and gum disease.

Thankfully, replacing your missing tooth with a dental implant restores the appearance of your smile, stops your teeth from shifting, and is the only tooth replacement option that prevents bone loss in your jaw. Since it’s embedded in your jaw like a natural tooth root, dental implants also make eating feel completely natural. You don’t have to worry about how you’re biting into an apple or steak with implants.

You might find yourself saying, “That sounds great, but how much do dental implants cost? Are dental implants near me affordable?” The truth is that although dental insurance rarely covers dental implants, there are options to afford your care. Medical insurance sometimes covers part of the cost of implants.  There are also services like CareCredit that help you pay for your treatment in affordable monthly payments instead of all at once—all with little to no interest. Unlike other tooth replacement options, implants will never need to be replaced; they’ll last your entire lifetime.

Kicking TMJ pain to the curb can improve your diet and quality of sleep.

Your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, helps you eat, speak, chew, and even swallow.  Because of this, chronic pain in the joint can affect a surprising chunk of your everyday life. In addition to causing you daily jaw pain, temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can cause chronic headaches and neck pain, make it difficult to eat, and keep you awake at night. All of these elements can greatly impact your overall health, especially since eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep are both closely tied to how well your immune system functions. Don’t force yourself to suffer through these symptoms or give them time to get worse. Contact Dr. Bentz about them right away. Dr. Bentz can help you figure out what activities trigger your TMJ pain and can help you identify the source of the issue, trying a range of treatments like exercises to help you reduce or eliminate your pain.

Dedicating yourself to keeping your mouth healthy by maintaining great oral hygiene and treating any dental issues that arise quickly is an important part of keeping yourself healthy as you age. If you have any questions about your oral health, dental implants, or TMJ pain, feel free to call our office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Bentz at any time.