blue bulletin from bcidaho

Keep your healthy smile

Good oral health can lead to better overall health. Poor oral hygiene, as well as tooth and gum decay, can lead to potential health risks, especially for those with certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, or those who are pregnant. Also, poor oral health can negatively impact your self-esteem and mental wellbeing. A healthy smile goes a long way.

mother and daughter brushing teethHow you can improve oral health

There are many things you can do to take care of your teeth and mouth. Daily oral care, healthy eating and regular visits with your dentist are the best ways to stay healthy.

Here are some tips from the Mayo Clinic on good oral health habits:

  • Get regular dental cleanings and checkups, typically once every six months, or as recommended by your dentist
  • Brush your teeth for two minutes twice daily
  • Use a soft-bristled brush
  • Floss daily
  • Use mouthwash after brushing
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit acidic foods
  • Replace your toothbrush often, at least every three to six months
  • Don’t smoke or use chewing tobacco

Visit the dentist regularly

Going to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings twice per year is an important part of helping improve your oral health. While brushing, flossing and other preventive steps can help you take care of your teeth on your own, your dentist can take a closer look at your teeth and gums to make sure there aren’t any other issues you need treatment for.

Here are some warning signs of oral health problems:

  • Tooth decay, toothaches and loose teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Bleeding gums, swelling of the jaw and gum recession
  • Mouth infections and mouth sores

If you notice any of these symptoms, visit your dentist to make sure and catch any issues before they get worse.

How oral health impacts your general health

Good oral hygiene is an important way to help prevent things like gum disease, cavities and bad breath. Taking care of your teeth and gums not only keeps your mouth healthy, but the rest of your body, too. Bacteria in your mouth from poor oral hygiene can get into your bloodstream and spread bacteria to other parts of your body.

Additionally, the Cleveland Clinic states that diseases related to poor oral health, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, may contribute to:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of the heart’s chambers and valves)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pregnancy complications

Keeping your teeth and gums clean can help support and improve your overall health.

Protect your teeth and your wallet

Keeping your teeth healthy also keeps your wallet healthy. Regularly cleaning your teeth and mouth with recommended preventive measures can help lower your chance of needing major dental work, saving you money. Health issues that may result from poor oral health will also have extra costs associated with treatment, leading to extra medical costs.

Poor dental health can also impact productivity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says more than $45 billion is lost in productivity in the United States each year from untreated oral disease. This is likely due to people missing work or not performing at their best while at work because of the pain or difficulty of dealing with an untreated oral infection or disease.

Overall, keeping your teeth healthy has many benefits, including better overall health, wellbeing, productivity and finances.

Get a dental plan

Blue Cross of Idaho also offers dental plans that can help you round out your health plan benefits. Visit our Individual and Family plans page for more information about our dental plans.


Written by: Blue Cross of Idaho

Posted: December 5, 2023