DENTON —When the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are but a memory, and one year ends and another begins, it’s natural to think of all possibilities to improve our lives in the coming year. For many of us that means dusting off our New Year’s resolutions from the previous year and either renewing our pledge to do better this time or making a completely new list of promises to be the best 2.0 version of ourselves.
Not surprising the most common resolutions are connected to health. For many people resolutions like losing weight, quitting smoking, and exercising more top the list. But Patricia E. Higgins, DDS, and Rowland S. Holsinger, DDS, and the professional and dental team at Smiles by Holsinger & Higgins in Denton, recommend adding improving your oral health to that list of promises. Here they share their insights on the connection between oral health and your overall health and why it’s important.
Practically from the time we had teeth, our parents drummed into us the importance of brushing our teeth. Brushing twice a day, flossing and visiting the dentist twice a year for professional cleanings are important for good oral health, but the impact doesn’t stop there.
“Like many parts of your body, your mouth is full of different types of bacteria and yeast, some good and some harmful. It is an entry point for both your respiratory and digestive tracts and some of these organisms can cause disease. Like all systems within the human body, the conditions in our mouth can affect and interact with other systems,” says Patricia E. Higgins, DDS. “When you properly care for your teeth and gums you keep the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth at bay so that the bacteria from built up plaque doesn’t turn into an oral infection like tooth decay, abscessed teeth and gum infection. Clinical studies suggest that the same bacteria may be connected to health problems such as heart disease, stroke, birth complications, pneumonia, autoimmune diseases and diabetes,” she adds.
If you’ve ever had a knee replaced or had heart surgery, you know that one of the steps prior to surgery is getting a clean bill of dental health. This process ensures that untreated dental issues and the bacteria involved are not going to interfere with the success of the surgery. Although it still isn’t clear whether poor oral health contributes to systemic medical problems or vice versa from a health perspective, preventing tooth decay and gum disease is an important investment in your overall health.
Aside from buttoning up your oral health habits in the New Year, your dentist can also assist you with another health issue: getting better, restful sleep. This is connected to your overall health as sleep disturbed breathing can put you at a higher risk for serious medical conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, a heart attack or heart failure.
Since dentists are trained experts on the jaw and the mechanics of the mouth, they are uniquely qualified to diagnose issues like teeth grinding and addressing the physical causes of snoring. “We have invested more than 18 months for advanced training to incorporate sleep apnea services into our practice. We now help patients, especially those who can’t or won’t use CPAP. We can design a dental oral appliance that can get them a restful night of sleep and greatly impact their overall health,” says Holsinger.
So when you make your New Year’s resolutions this year, make sure improving your oral health tops the list.
Smiles By Holsinger & Higgins opened in February 1986 and offers the convenience of comprehensive care for adult patients. They provide routine dental check-ups and cleanings as well as cosmetic enhancements to improve the appearance of crooked, chipped, unevenly spaced, or stained teeth. Smiles by Holsinger & Higgins also provides sleep dentistry and sedation dentistry services. For more information, call 410- 479-3644 or visit smilesby.com or facebook.com/SmilesbyHH.