Keeping your mouth, teeth, and gums clean is an essential part of good health. There are more reasons than ever to prioritize dental health, with research indicating that oral hygiene can be an indicator of overall health. Less than half of adults get a dental check every year, with almost 1 in 4 Australians reporting untreated tooth decay. It’s clear that, on average, we don’t take our dental health as seriously as we should. There is also evidence to suggest that poor mouth health can increase your risk factors for several other health problems including heart attacks and strokes. Oral health is much less widely understood and discussed than other types of medical care, so it’s important to go over some of the reasons why your dental health is so important.

Many Diseases Have Oral Signs and Symptoms

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You may not be aware of how many serious conditions and diseases have identifiable dental health symptoms early on. Even chronic illnesses like HIV/AIDS and diabetes often present with mouth lesions or other similar oral problems. According to the Academy of General Dentistryover 90% of systemic diseases produce oral symptoms. All the science suggests that your dental health is directly tied to your general health, so paying attention to your mouth is a key way to stay in touch with the rest of your body, too.

Plaque and Infections Cause Common Health Problems

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More than 500 species of bacteria can live in your mouth at any given time. This causes dental plaque to form. When you let this plaque build up along your gum line, you can develop a few different kinds of infections like gingivitis, periodontitis, and trench mouth. In rare cases, oral bacteria can even cause an infection to develop in a different part of your body. Infective endocarditis, for an example, occurs when oral bacteria stick to the lining of diseased heart valves. The links between poor dental health and conditions like diabetes have been studied for a long time. Oral infections can also be linked to preterm birth and some types of cardiovascular disease.

Starting a Healthy Dental Routine is Easy

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Though it isn’t as commonly discussed as having a good workout, having a good daily dental routine is just as important. You should brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, avoid bad habits like smoking, and minimize the amount of sugar in your diet. Having health insurance that covers your dental health is an important part of preventive care, as dental pain can be a warning sign of many serious conditions. You can easily compare health insurance plans with iSelect online if you have questions or need help finding a plan. If you experience severe dental pain, you should make sure to seek an orofacial pain diagnosis as soon as possible. Your life could be in danger if you let it go untreated for too long.

Poor dental health puts you at risk for many life-threatening conditions that you may not even be aware of. Given how simple it is to improve your dental hygiene, there’s no reason to risk your health by ignoring your oral health. In addition to making changes to your lifetime and routine, getting dental insurance can also provide both peace of mind and financial relief in the case of a dental emergency. Remember, if you have severe pain and swelling, you should seek care at an emergency room. Don’t neglect your regular dental check-ups either; preventive care helps avoid long-term problems with your dental hygiene and gives your dentist an opportunity to spot any potential trouble early. Ultimately, the cost of protecting your dental health is more than worth the long term benefits.