Oral health is critical to overall health. Here are five surprising tips to save money and stay healthy.

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Oral health is critical to overall health. Here are five surprising tips to save money and stay healthy.

Surprise 1: You’re more fit if your mouth is fit

Oral health affects overall health and fitness. Poor oral health has been linked to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Get regular checkups to detect problems that might quickly become worse and expensive to treat. Preventing problems early is especially important for older adults, as Medicare does not cover dental care.

Surprise 2: Flossing keeps you looking younger longer

Flossing daily cleans the 40 percent of your tooth surfaces that brushing doesn’t reach. Flossing helps you look younger longer by preventing gum disease, which leads to receding gums, a telltale sign of aging.

Surprise 3: Gum disease is an infection

If you have diabetes, you’re twice as likely to develop gum disease, and gum disease makes it harder to control blood sugar. People with diabetes should get regular dental checkups. Gum disease causes bad breath, and leads to tooth and bone loss affecting your appearance and making it difficult to eat foods you love.

Surprise 4: Cavities are caused by infectious germs

Sweet or high-carb foods and drinks feed the germs that cause decay. After eating, these germs make acid that attacks teeth for 20 minutes or more, literally eating away tooth enamel. The result: cavities. It’s the frequency of snacking (or sipping) — not just the type of snack — that leads to tooth decay. It’s better to snack all at once rather than nibbling throughout the day.

Surprise 5: Cavities and gum disease are preventable

Cavities and gum disease aren’t inevitable. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, healthy snacking and regular checkups protect oral health. 

Good oral health saves you money.  The good news is you can keep your teeth for life, if you take care of your mouth. Don’t forget oral health as you plan for retirement.

If you like your teeth, learn how to protect them for life by visiting TheMightyMouth.

Discover your real possibilities at AARP.

The Mighty Mouth campaign, sponsored by Washington Dental Service Foundation, is raising awareness that “You’re healthier with a healthy mouth.”  The goal is to motivate people to prevent oral disease and improve their oral – and overall – health.