Physical fitness plays an important role in your overall health and wellbeing. We often think of exercise as a means of enhancing our appearance, but the benefits of fitness go far beyond cosmetic appeal. Most people understand the definitive link between exercise and cardiovascular health, emotional health, and stamina, yet many never stop to think about the impact of exercise on oral health. Take periodontal disease, for example. Astoria, NY general dentist Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz advises that consistently following a fitness routine will reduce your risk of developing gum disease.
How can I tell whether I have gum disease?
Gingivitis is gum disease in its earliest, mildest form. Without treatment it progresses into periodontitis, a more severe, destructive condition. Periodontitis compromises your gum tissue and can even lead to loss of teeth and bone. Warning signs of periodontal disease include:
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Gums that appear red and swollen
- A chronic foul odor or taste in your mouth, even after brushing
The risks associated with periodontal disease highlight the need for regular dental checkups. Dr. Leibowitz usually recommends professional cleaning and exams every six months. However, a patient with gum disease may require more frequent, intensive care.
Evidence of the Link Between Physical and Oral Health
Multiple studies have confirmed the link between improved oral health and regular physical activity. The Journal of Periodontology published results of a study focusing on three healthy behaviors: regular exercise, maintaining an acceptable weight, and consuming a healthy, balanced diet. Researchers found that patients who consistently practice these behaviors will reduce their risk for progressive gum disease by as much as 40 percent.
A second study revealed that the least obese subjects and the healthiest, most physically fit participants had a significantly lower risk of gum disease. This could be because regular physical activity has been proven to reduce inflammation throughout the body, including your gums. Inflammation also creates systemic health risks, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Dr. Leibowitz notes that unless you are an athlete or have adopted a very rigorous, extended fitness routing, you should stick with water instead of sports or energy drinks. These colorful beverages pack a shocking amount of sugar and are highly acidic. Bacteria living in your mouth thrive on sugar, converting it into acid and mixing with bits of leftover food. Acid weakens the enamel, making your teeth and gums more susceptible to infection and tooth decay.
Have you experienced symptoms of gum disease? To learn more about treatment for periodontal disease, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Leibowitz, contact our office at 718-728-8320. We welcome patients living in upstate New York, NYC, Queens, Astoria, and even as far as New Jersey. For the latest news and insights into oral health, follow us on Facebook.