It’s January — that time of year when gym memberships in Punta Gorda, FL surge and so many of us pledge to do our body good by eating well and finally getting around to exercising.
You’re surely well aware of the many benefits being active has on our bodies: regular exercise has been shown to promote weight loss, reduce the risk of heart problems, help manage insulin levels and lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, and improve mood and mental health.
You may also be aware of the increasing evidence that good oral health is linked to better overall health. Adding to this body of research is a study that links exercise specifically to better oral health.
That’s right. When you get moving — whether at the gym, at the park, or on your treadmill at home — you are doing your entire body good, including your mouth.
Of course, a vigorous jog will never replace your twice-yearly dental cleaning and examination. If you’re due for your next appointment, call Smiles of Punta Gorda at 941-585-0424, or fill out our online form. We look forward to being your partner in oral health.
Get Moving and Leave Periodontal Disease in the Dust
When you don’t care for your teeth properly at home or visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and examinations, you risk the buildup of plaque — a sticky film of bacteria — on your teeth. Over time, plaque hardens into tartar and leads to tooth decay and periodontal disease, or gum disease.
The study didn’t draw conclusions as to why people who exercise have a lower likelihood of developing periodontal disease, but it found a clear correlation. The researchers examined data from a national health survey and adjusted for factors such as age, race, education, BMI, and gender. They found:
- People who’ve never smoked but exercise have a 54% lower chance of developing gum disease than non-exercising people who’ve never smoked.
- Former smokers who exercise have an astonishing 74% lower risk of periodontal disease than former smokers who don’t exercise.
- There was no statistically significant difference between current smokers who exercise and those who don’t.
How Else Can I Keep Gum Disease at Bay?
Even if you’re more of a couch potato than gym rat, you are not doomed to suffer from periodontal disease. Here’s how you can keep your gums (and teeth!) in good shape.
- Practice meticulous oral hygiene at home: brush twice daily for two minutes at a time using a soft-bristled toothbrush, floss daily, and use a fluoride mouthwash.
- Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco, which heighten your risk for gum disease.
- Avoid starchy and sugary foods, which promote the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
- Stick to a schedule of twice-yearly dental visits. A professional cleaning helps rid the teeth of plaque and tartar and if there is a problem we can spot it early on.