The benefits of a healthy mouth go way beyond just an attractive smile – although that’s a definite benefit that can positively impact your self-esteem and confidence.

The truth is, your mouth is a clear window into the overall health of your body at large. Not only does it show signs of nutritional deficiencies and infections, it can also indicate more chronic health problems.

In fact many systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body, first become apparent as a result of oral manifestations such as mouth ulcers, chronic bad breath, tooth decay, and gum problems.

Like other parts of the body, the mouth is filled with bacteria – much of it harmless. Usually this bacteria is kept in check via regular brushing and flossing, however, if oral hygiene is neglected, bacteria can build up on the teeth and make gums prone to infection leading to periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay.

Furthermore, many prescription medications reduce the flow of saliva which is important not only for neutralizing the acids that break down tooth enamel, but also for defending against the bacterial overgrowth that can lead to a number of oral health conditions such as bad breath, gingivitis, periodontitis, cavities, and plaque build-up.

As mentioned above, there are a number of systemic diseases and conditions that are linked to poor oral health including:

• Cardiovascular disease and stroke
• Diabetes
• Lung Conditions
• Certain Cancers
• Neurological Disorders
• Digestive Disorders
• Premature Birth and Low Birth Weight

Taking care of our mouth through proper oral hygiene, diet, and other lifestyle considerations is imperative for experiencing good health overall.

Protect Your Oral Health

• Practice good oral health daily:
– Brush your teeth at least twice daily
– Floss your teeth at least once per day – to remove the plaque your toothbrush can’t reach
– Use your toothbrush or purchase a tongue scraper to clean the surface of your tongue

• Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco which can wreak havoc on your gums and teeth – not to mention increase your risk for cancer
• Eat a diet rich in whole foods including plenty of lean proteins and vegetables to supply the nutrients necessary for healthy teeth and gums (in particular vitamins A, C, D, K2, calcium, and phosphorus)
• Limit sugary foods, particularly those high in refined sugars, and avoid sweet snacks, especially in between meals
• Limit soda, energy drinks, and other sugary liquids and stick to water as your main beverage
• Keep your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day
• Chew xylitol sweetened gum after meals and/or brush with toothpaste containing xylitol which helps to prevent tooth decay by reducing plaque formation and halting acid producing bacteria
• Drink antioxidant-rich green tea which decreases inflammation and has been shown to inhibit the growth of cavity-causing bacteria
• Consider supplementing with a probiotic and/or consuming more fermented foods that can help to suppress the growth of bacteria in the oral cavity
• Schedule regular dental check-ups (particularly if you suffer from any of diseases or health conditions mentioned above)

About the Author

Elaine is a Certified Nutritionist and Women’s Health Coach. She works with clients across the globe to help them improve their health and relationship with food. Elaine believes in a real food approach to health that is rooted in optimizing digestion and includes ongoing and intelligent cleansing. You can download her FREE Hip, Healthy & Holistic Makeover Guide to learn 5 simple things you can do every day to lose weight, increase energy, kick cravings, and feel beautiful inside & out.