Earlier this year, CNBC published a story about a few key habits that can help keep you youthful as you age. The article discussed “Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old.” The book by Andrew Steele delves into the science of aging and how to stay healthy while you do it. Steele covers aging at the cellular level, and most of his advice is what you might expect: eat a healthy diet, stay active, get plenty of rest, that kind of thing.
What you might not expect is that great oral care factors heavily in his advice for healthy aging.
Avoiding Inflammation Is Key to Healthy Aging
Almost every piece of advice about general health has one thing in common: it will help prevent systemic inflammation. Most foods considered “healthy” have anti-inflammatory properties in one way or another, whether that means they’re high in antioxidants or they promote a healthy gut biome, which also helps control inflammation. Getting great sleep helps the body correct for inflammation from stress. Exercise likewise buffers against chronic inflammation by increasing healthy circulation and oxygenating your blood. Nearly every “healthy” thing you do will reduce chronic inflammation!
When your immune system becomes activated, regardless of the cause, inflammation is how those immune cells respond. It can be complex, but the inflammatory response is a way for your body to rush immune cells to the site of a problem, whether it’s an injury, a foreign body, or an infection. When it’s working properly, inflammation is your body’s best defense against damage, and its main method of making repairs.
However, when inflammation lingers, it can wind up doing a lot of damage. Chronic inflammation has been proven to increase your risks for all kinds of diseases, and especially aging-related disease. From arthritis to cardiovascular disease, pancreatic cancer to dementia, inflammation appears to be the common thread in almost all long-term disease. This isn’t to say inflammation is the cause of all disease, but it certainly factors into the progress and prognosis for most ills. Even COVID outcomes have a lot to do with gum inflammation!
Great Oral Health Means Less Inflammatory Triggers
So, chronic inflammation can make aging harder on your body. One of the most common sources for chronic inflammation in the US is gum disease. The CDC estimates that nearly half of all Americans over the age of 30 have periodontal disease. That means that about half of the adults in our country have a source of chronic inflammation that could make aging worse for them.
Good news? We can help!
Great oral health is not impossible. While genetics do factor into your risks, for most people, it just takes some consistent TLC and a little time to reverse active gum inflammation. The gum tissue is very forgiving for the most part, and if you’re willing to put in the work, we can support you in reclaiming control over your oral health and your potential for healthy aging!
How to Care for Your Teeth So You Can Age Well
The basics never change. Brush twice daily for two minutes and aim to floss once per day. Get caught up on your dental cleanings and try to stay on a regular maintenance schedule with your dentist. It may feel like a big ask, but all told it just takes about five minutes per day and two to three dental check-ups per year to ensure your oral health and minimize inflammation in your gums. We think that’s well worth it!
When you do come in for your dental health check, also remember that replacing missing teeth can also contribute to healthy aging. Getting cavities treated in a timely manner can help prevent tooth loss as well as avoid infections, which is another potential cause of inflammation. We hope these issues won’t come up often for you, but they do contribute to your oral health just as much as healthy gums.
We love helping our patients achieve their best health throughout their lifetime. Call to schedule your next oral health check and don’t forget to floss! Keep smiling, Orlando!