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Oral hygiene is crucial to overall good health

(NC)— The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but the mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body. While many of us think that the worst outcome of poor dental hygiene is tooth loss, research now shows a direct link between oral health and your overall well-being.

Periodontal disease, a disease of the gums and supporting bone, has been linked to a number of serious illnesses including diabetes, lung and heart diseases, and stroke. There are millions of bacteria in the mouth, and ignoring oral health routines can lead to inflammation, causing these bacteria to grow and spread at alarming rates, even into the bloodstream.

We do have a partner, however, in this fight for better oral health. Dental hygienists point out that they are primary health care providers who will guide us every step of the way. Whether working in a dental office, a clinic, a hospital, a retirement home or in the community, a dental hygienist is a licensed, oral health care professional who has the skills, knowledge, and judgment to facilitate early detection of oral health problems and diseases. At a dental visit, your hygienist will assess your health history, examine your head and neck, and check your mouth. Together you will develop an oral hygiene plan that includes prevention and treatment therapies to ensure the best overall health possible. If necessary, your dental hygienist may refer to you other health care professionals.

The simplest way to locate this professional is through a dental office – and there are many dental hygienists who own and operate their own independent practices. Additional tips and information on this topic is available online at

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