How can poor oral health come back to bite you?

Posted by Al Boyle
On February 4, 2024

“Ugh! The human mouth is a disgusting place.”


Gurgle, the neurotic Royal Gamma fish commenting to his fellow fish tank residents after watching a man spit in the dentist’s office
Finding Nemo (2003)

Do you have great dental checkups? Just routine cleanings and x-rays, with an encouraging “everything looks great!” buttoning the visit?

That’s fantastic, and not just for your mouth: Your oral health is the canary in the coal mine for your overall health.

That’s because your mouth is like the entrance to a fortress. If the gates are weak, enemies can breach it with ease. And this goes far beyond bad breath or toothaches.

It makes sense when you consider there’s no bigger entrance to the body than the mouth. We need to be smart about what enters.

How serious can it get?

Research has found either causation or correlation between poor oral health and these conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Cirrhosis
  • Colorectal and esophageal cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Cognitive impairment, including dementia

That’s only a partial list, but it packs a wallop because they’re common causes or contributing factors to death.

The blood-brain barrier was once thought to prevent bacteria from crossing, but recent research proves otherwise. Oral bacteria can help increase the blood-brain barrier’s permeability, allowing inflammatory substances to reach the brain.

I’m sure you’re with me on this: I don’t want anything my body is fighting to invade my brain. I don’t want it in me, period, unless it’s designed to provoke an inflammatory response (read: a vaccine).

So, what preventive measures can you take? The good news is, you’re likely already taking most, if not all, of them:

Brushing and flossing your teeth

Brush ‘em twice and floss ‘em once each day. I’m not talking about going through the motions, either. Two quality minutes so all surfaces the brush can reach get their TLC.

Floss to remove what your toothbrush can’t.

Think of it this way: Whatever you don’t remove stays and decays.

Let’s have none of that.

Regular dental visits

Visiting your dentist at least once a year for routine exams and cleanings allows them to detect and treat problems early.

Even if you have no natural teeth or you have dentures, maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting the dentist regularly makes a difference.

Eat healthy

You know sugary and acidic foods wreak havoc on a tooth’s enamel. Strive for moderation. After I indulge, if I’m in a position to do so, I’ll brush afterward.

Fluoride and mouthwash

Use fluoride toothpaste, drink fluoridated water, and consider adding mouthwash to your oral health arsenal.

Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol

Okay, you probably saw this coming.

With tobacco a known carcinogen, alcohol a known toxin,and neither considered staples in a healthy diet, we have to go there to keep it real.

One last bite

Good oral hygiene is not only as simple as it is effective, it’s just a five-minute investment daily.

Five. Minutes.

You’re so worth it.

And the rest of your body is counting on you.

Stay healthy.




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