Growing up, our parents taught us to  brush and floss our teeth thoroughly. While they were focused on clean teeth and gums, they were also helping us to improve other aspects of our health because oral health is directly related to overall health. 

Since 2009, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association has recognized every October as “National Dental Hygiene Month.” The campaign raises awareness about having good oral health by always brushing and flossing our teeth and getting regular check-ups with our dentist. Here are five surprising benefits of having good oral hygiene.

  • 1

    REDUCES RISK OF HEART DISEASE

    When you don’t brush and floss your teeth, you’re allowing gum disease to form that can cause your gums to bleed. This results in oral bacteria entering your bloodstream and spreading throughout your body. And this can increase chronic inflammation that can lead to cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, blood vessels, and strokes.

    Fortunately, you can lower this risk by simply maintaining good oral health. But if you have early signs of gum disease such as bleeding and swollen gums, then see your dentist for treatment and advice.

  • 2

    MAINTAINS YOUR MEMORY

    A 2010 study showed that people with gingivitis performed worse on a memory and cognitive skills test than those who had healthier mouths. Once again, this is because oral bacteria can enter your bloodstream and nerve channels that lead to your brain. This kills your brain cells and results in memory loss and the formation of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

    Consider using antibacterial toothpaste or mouthwash to reduce the bacteria in your mouth that causes gingivitis.

  • 3

    IMPROVES FERTILITY AND PREGNANCY

    If you’re a woman who is struggling with fertility, then you should check your teeth as poor dental hygiene can affect your ability to conceive a baby. This is because gum disease can affect your progesterone and estrogen hormones and reproductive organs. A 2011 study found that women with gum disease took two months longer to become pregnant than those without it.

    Once you conceive, continue to take care of your teeth to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Other studies have shown that gum disease can also lead to early deliveries and low birth weight infants. So, visit your dentist or periodontist as a part of your prenatal care.

  • 4

    LOWERS CHANCES OF DIABETES

    Having poor oral health can lead to type 2 diabetes, or it can worsen it if you already have diabetes. Research has found that people with gum disease are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with healthy gums. Once again, oral bacteria raise the inflammation throughout your body, which can lead to (or increase) insulin resistance.

    Even worse, there is a two-way relationship between diabetes and gum disease. Diabetes can also lead to more severe gum problems such as tissue damage and eventual tooth loss. So, continue to brush, floss, and rinse your mouth, while also keeping your blood sugar levels low.

  • 5

    DECREASES RISK OF CANCER

    Having gum disease can also lead to certain types of cancer, such as oral or pancreatic cancer. Researchers believe that oral bacteria in your bloodstream might boost the growth of cancer cells.

    Once again, by simply cleaning your teeth, you will lower the oral bacteria than can get into your bloodstream. Your dentist will also check for signs of cancer during your regular check-up. These symptoms may include difficulty in chewing, swallowing, or speaking, or any pain or numbness in your mouth. So, if you experience any of these signs, then visit your dentist immediately.