5 Reasons Why Oral Care Matters

Think it's all about whiter teeth and fresh breath? Good oral care has some surprising benefits for your overall health

oral_care_mattersphoto credit: shutterstock


‘There is increasing evidence showing a link between oral health and general health,” says Richmond Hill dentist Susan Filippi. “Your mouth is part of your body, so it just makes sense to take care of your oral health.’ Beyond your teeth and gums, here are 5 surprising reasons why oral care matters for a healthy body.

1. Healthy gums for a healthier heart

Studies link oral inflammatory disease and elevated heart disease risk. According to the Canadian Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are at greater risk of heart disease and have twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack than people without periodontal disease.

Gum disease from extended bacterial exposure can lead to cardiovascular disease as it may increase the inflammation level throughout the body. Inflammation is a major risk factor for heart disease. Your dentist or hygienist should ask you about your heart health and family history of heart disease and conversely, cardiologists should examine your oral health. A problem in one area may signal trouble in the other.

2. A healthy mouth could mean a healthier pregnancy

Regular checkups with a dentist and hygienist become even more important during pregnancy. Health Canada reports there are ongoing studies examining whether pregnant women with poor oral health may be at higher risk of delivering pre-term, low birth weight babies than pregnant women with good oral health.

Babies born pre-term or with a low birth weight have a higher risk of complications including developmental problems, asthma, ear infections, birth abnormalities, behavioural difficulties and may have a higher risk of infant death. Women who are pregnant should take extra care to keep their teeth at their best, not just for themselves, but for their babies too.

3. There’s a two-way link between gum disease and diabetes

While it’s known that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease, surprising new studies suggest that serious gum disease may actually contribute to diabetes as it affects blood glucose control. The Canadian Diabetes Association says, ‘Because periodontal disease is an infection, bacteria produce toxins that affect the carbohydrate metabolism in individual cells. It is also thought that the host response to periodontal bacteria can increase insulin resistance and, therefore, blood glucose levels.’ This two-way link is a wake-up call to take care of your teeth, especially since the incidence of diabetes is rising.

4. Detect oral cancer before you have symptoms

As part of regular checkups, dentists check all soft tissues to ensure they are healthy. Says Dr. Filippi: ‘all dentists are trained to do a cancer screening as part of ongoing dental checkups, by inspecting the gums, tongue, lips and cheeks for anything suspicious or any unusual changes.’

A precancerous lesion can begin as a small white or dark red patch that may not be causing you any noticeable symptoms. The Canadian Dental Association confirms that your dentist has the expert skill and training that can provide lifesaving early detection. Keep in mind that only about one-half of all patients diagnosed with oral cancer survive more than five years, so detecting early signs of the disease is crucial.

5. Trying to lose weight? Here’s a secret trick.

Brushing your teeth signals you have finished eating and may help with portion control. Use this trick to your advantage ‘ have a healthy meal and then, before you are tempted to overeat or indulge in sweet desserts, go and brush your teeth. This will tell your appetite that mealtime is over.

While brushing cleans your teeth and freshens your breath, not much tastes good right after brushing with minty toothpaste. Don’t wait until bedtime to brush, either; try brushing early in the evening, right after dinner, to thwart late-night snack cravings.

Related content:

Secrets to Staying Healthy & Happy

The apple of our eye

From a health and nutrition perspective, that old saying should probably read “The apples of our brain” or “The apples of our heart” as researchers have found that apples help protect our brain cells from oxidative damage and decrease the buildup of fats on our artery walls.Best of all, apples are at their peak for […]


Scallop and Guacamole Appetizer

Scallops are low in saturated fats, high in vitamin B12, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. You’ll want to eat this with a knife and fork to scoop up the scallops and guacamole together.


Finding the perfect gift for kids isn’t always easy

This is the first year where I was totally stumped for gift ideas for my kids. Usually by this time we have at least our youngest son writing a letter to Santa that spells out exactly what he hopes to find under the tree.  But none of my kids has that one "must-have" item that […]


News: Vitamin A fights precancerous cells

One of the best parts about working at a health magazine is researching the latest advancements in disease-prevention. It’s hopeful to know that progress continues, especially considering our country’s high rates of cancer, heart disease and obesity. Here’s some of the latest news.Retinoic acid, which is one of the chemicals your body converts vitamin A […]

Chicken and blue cheese gratin

A layered bake of sliced potatoes, celeriac and leeks with chicken, topped with cheese, makes a perfect dish for an autumn day. Serve with a tomato and green bean salad and some chunks of crusty bread.