See Your Dentist, Too.

When was the last time you had your teeth cleaned? I mean professionally.

Continuing on our theme of foundations, I am going to stress the importance of regular dental checkups. Hopefully, you’ve made your physical appointment by now, so make a dental appointment too. I am not being trite.

The human mouth is a cauldron of bacteria, most of it beneficial to digestion and generally harmless (even though it smells anything but, first thing in the morning.) Get this bacteria in your bloodstream, however, and it has a direct link to infect other parts of your body, most notably, your heart. How does this bacteria get into your bloodstream? Inflammation and abscesses due to cavities and periodontal disease. In fact, periodontal disease goes hand in hand with diabetes and is linked to other bad times, like heart disease and stroke.

What? You say. Teeth aren’t that important.

Really? Consider this: your mouth is the main gateway to the inside of your body. Anything in it has front door access to your digestive tract and your bloodstream. That questionable bit of buffet food may not kill you, but disease, bacteria, decay, and infections can be a big deal. Also, if your body is constantly battling low-grade inflammation and infections, it's not going to perform optimally. 

Your dentist not only cleans your teeth and patches up your cavities, but inspects your mouth as well. Certain oral issues are directly related to underlying diseases and conditions that you may not be aware of. A dentist can detect the beginning of oral cancers, too, when time is of the essence to diagnose and treat it. Diagnostics and prevention go a long way in keeping you healthy.

Aside from seeing a dentist, you should be brushing your teeth twice a day (more is overkill)  and flossing once a day. Use a toothpaste with fluoride. The new trend to shun all fluoride is scientifically misguided. The CDC calls the fluoridation of water “one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century” for a very good reason (see the dangers of bad oral health above). Don’t let misguided holistic zealots worry you. Unless you are preparing to swallow the contents of ten tubes of toothpaste, or drink from a well next to an industrial plant, fluoride is not something you need to be concerned about, except to apply it to your teeth to make them stronger and healthier.

Besides, don’t you want a nice smile to go with your new physique? A mouth full of stinky, gnarled, chicklets cancels out washboard abs every day of the week. Trust me.