Water. Check. Healthy meals. Yup. Exercise. Done. You’ve got it covered when it comes to looking after your overall health, but did you know that your oral health and overall health have a connection, too? Ensuring a healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body.
Part of making sure your oral health is top-notch is having straight teeth and an aligned bite. Straight teeth are easier to clean and help avoid tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. It goes without saying that achieving a health-ready smile sometimes means orthodontic treatment like braces or clear aligners. At Hawley Orthodontics, we think of it like this: straight teeth = improved oral health = better overall health.
Back in 2018, we introduced the importance of straight teeth on your oral health. Now, your Papillion orthodontist, Dr. Nathan Hawley, is diving deeper — with six main (and several supporting!) studies about the importance of oral health on overall health.
Oral Health and Cardiovascular Health
Simply put, your mouth is a gateway into your lungs. As such, oral bacteria can travel into your lungs, hitching a ride on tiny droplets of saliva that flow into your lungs when you take a breath. Studies show that too much oral bacteria entering your lungs is linked to pulmonary diseases like asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Proper Chewing Ability Means Optimal Digestion
Of course, your mouth is also the starting point of your digestive system, and difficulty chewing because of crooked or missing teeth can be hard on your digestion. A 2001 study found that impaired chewing affected oral bacteria, which led to an increased risk of gastrointestinal problems. Another study revealed a link between chewing problems and issues like bloating, cramps, constipation or diarrhea.
In contrast, straight teeth help you chew properly and easily. It’s one of the great health benefits of orthodontic treatment — straight teeth means both functional and easy-to-clean teeth against harmful oral bacteria.
Oral Health and Cancers
Research at Harvard found that those with a history of gum disease have a higher risk of stomach and esophageal cancers. The study suggested that more oral bacteria and its harmful byproducts contribute to the risk, though more studies are needed to solidify the relationship.
Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
When you think of diabetes, the first thing that likely comes to mind is sugar, something that’s also a key player when you’re talking about oral health. How are diabetes and oral health connected? A joint report between the International Diabetes Federation and the European Federation of Periodontology talks about a strong link between periodontitis (serious gum disease) and an elevated risk for high glucose and insulin resistance.
Periodontitis and Pregnancy
We all know that good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are super important for a healthy pregnancy and baby. The oral health and overall health connection are part of this story: in pregnancy, hormones can make you more susceptible to gum issues like redness, swelling, even bleeding when you brush and floss — commonly called “pregnancy gingivitis.” If left untreated, this gingivitis can worsen, leading to severe gum disease called periodontitis. In this survey of 22 studies, periodontitis during pregnancy was linked to outcomes such as pre-term birth and low birth weight.
As we’ve mentioned, straight teeth is one of the health benefits of braces and Invisalign, and, in turn, contributes to more effective oral hygiene. This is a definite perk in pregnancy when you’re at an elevated risk of dental health problems and you want the best advantage over any oral health problems that might come up.
Straight Teeth Adds To Mental Well-Being
Real talk, it’s human nature to form first impressions based on looks, and, in turn, rest some of our self-esteem on our appearance, including our smile. Enter: the health benefits of orthodontic treatment once again.
What does science say? Studies point to the social benefits of straight teeth; people are more drawn to those with a beautiful smile, and we tend to think people with nice smiles are more successful, healthy, happy and trustworthy. According to one study published by the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics, it was found that people with straight, white teeth were perceived by participants as more intelligent and more likely to find a job than those with crooked teeth.
Oftentimes, an instant health benefit of braces or Invisalign is smiling more, and smiling more is scientifically proven to make you feel better. Smiling releases neuropeptides, molecules that help neurons communicate. They help with messaging our emotions to the whole body and the release of our feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. They can relax our body and can lower our heart rate and blood pressure. At Hawley Orthodontics, we’re all about transforming lives and our community with the power of smiles!
Get the Health Benefits of Straight Teeth with Your Caring Papillion Orthodontist
Have the health benefits of orthodontic treatment we’ve covered got you thinking about braces or Invisalign? Dr. Hawley and the Hawley Orthodontics team are ready to help improve your oral health and overall health — with advanced, high-tech service and friendly, personal patient care that results in an amazing, health-improving smile.Give us a shout! We serve the Omaha area at our comfortable and modern Papillion, NE office, including the Bellevue, Ralston and La Vista, NE communities.