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Smile! Taking care of your teeth is an easy way to take care of the rest of you too. [Image:Sean McGrath - Wikimedia Commons]

Beyond brushing – healthy teeth and gums protect the body in multiple ways

10 January, 2012

Natural Health News — Routine tooth brushing and flossing and regular check-ups by a dental professional remain the cornerstone of a healthy mouth.

However, according to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), pairing a few well-known healthy-lifestyle habits with your daily oral health regimen may also help reduce your risk for periodontal disease.Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and other structures supporting the teeth.

According to Dr Pamela McClain, President of the American Academy of Periodontology:

“If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and may also interfere with other systems of the body. Several research studies have indicated that one’s periodontal health may be related to overall health. Therefore, it is crucial that you do everything you can to establish good periodontal health. Therefore, it is crucial that you do everything you can to establish good periodontal health.”

In fact, studies show that gum disease is associated with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. The AAP have recently issued the following tips to sustain healthy teeth and gums while also helping you live an overall healthy lifestyle:

  • Balance your diet. It is well known that eating a balanced diet leads to proper nutrition and helps keep the body running effectively. Studies published in the Journal of Periodontology have also shown that certain foods can promote teeth and gum health. Foods containing omega-3, calcium and vitamin D and even manuka honey have all been shown to reduce the incidence or severity of periodontal disease.
  • Get moving. Frequent exercise is a recognized way to avoid being overweight, and it may ultimately reduce your risk of periodontal disease. In one study, researchers found that subjects who maintained a healthy weight and had high levels of physical fitness had a lower incidence of severe periodontitis than those that did not exercise.
  • De-stress. Stress can lead to a variety of health complications, including gum disease. Research has shown a relationship between stress and gum disease. Increased levels of cortisol, which the body releases when experiencing stress, can intensify the destruction of the gums and bone due to periodontal disease. In addition, another study found that people experiencing stress are more likely to neglect their oral hygiene.
  • Kick the habit. Smoking is not only a leading cause of respiratory and cardiovascular disease in the United States, it is also a major risk factor for periodontal disease. Several research studies have shown that smoking not only increases the chance of developing periodontal disease, but it can also affect the success of treatments for existing periodontal disease.

Following these tips alongside daily tooth brushing and flossing and regular check-ups will help ensure healthy teeth and gums, as well as a host of other health benefits.