A recent British Dental Health Foundation study found one in seven Brits goes two days without brushing their teeth. Perhaps they wouldn’t be so complacent if they knew their relaxed attitude to oral hygiene didn’t just increase their risk of contracting cavities and gum disease. It also means they won’t enjoy these five unexpected health benefits that regular brushing brings.
Brushing Can Ward Off Lung Disease
Image via Flickr by Marc Samsom
Lung disease is the deadliest disease in the United Kingdom, claiming more victims than coronary heart disease and all types of cancer. It also costs the National Health System more than any other disease, with annual costs tipping £2,576. But what if you knew that brushing your teeth could prevent this debilitating and often fatal condition? Perhaps you wouldn’t worry so much about the figures on this National Health System dental pricing infographic.
Some common respiratory disorders, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia, occur when bacteria enters the lower respiratory tract. A 2011 study from the American Academy of Periodontology found that the presence of bacteria associated with periodontal disease, a severe form of gum disease, increases the chances of contracting these lung diseases. Regular brushing prevents this bacterial build-up, lowering the chance of developing these respiratory disorders.
Cleaning Your Teeth Can Assist Weight Loss
We’ve all been repulsed by delicious foods and drinks that we’ve consumed soon after cleaning our teeth. There’s very little that tastes good when your mouth is minty fresh, so you’re much more likely to abstain after brushing your teeth. What a great way to resist impulse snacking.
Brushing your teeth also sends a signal to your brain that you’re done with eating. It’s especially effective late at night, because you’ll take that clean teeth feeling right to bed. This means you’re less likely to indulge in midnight snacks laden in calories that you won’t get the chance to burn off.
Brushing your teeth doesn’t just help you resist taking in more calories; it also burns them off. Brush after every main meal for just two minutes and you’ll burn more than 3,500 calories every year. That’s almost half a kilo of easy weight loss.
Brushing Your Teeth Can Help You Quit Smoking
When you feel those nicotine cravings creeping up, pick up your toothbrush instead of a cigarette. Some ex-smokers say that once their mouth felt fresh, they didn’t want to foul it up with cigarette smoke. This unusual tactic is also much healthier and far less addictive than patches. As you continue to brush instead of puff, you’ll also appreciate your new white smile.
Cleaning Your Teeth Reduces Sexual Problems
If your teeth haven’t come in contact with a toothbrush lately, your sex life is probably suffering. But regular brushing can do more than curing a case of halitosis. A British study found four out of five men with severe erectile dysfunction also had gum disease. It’s believed that the oral bacteria that build up when you don’t brush combines with plaque and enters the bloodstream. It blocks the blood vessels in the penis and prevents the blood flow needed for a healthy erection.
An Israeli study found that teeth brushing can also improve male fertility. The research found more than half of men with low to no sperm count also suffered from gum disease.
Brushing Your Teeth Can Ward Off Dementia
Brushing regularly can help you hang onto your teeth — and your mind — according to studies from the University of California. The research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society studied the habits of 5,468 residents of a California retirement community between 1992 and 2010. Over the 18-year period, 1,145 residents developed dementia.
Researchers found the men who didn’t brush their teeth every day were 22 percent more likely to develop dementia. The link was much more pronounced in women, with participants who didn’t brush their teeth daily showing a 65 percent greater chance of developing the memory loss condition.
While the researchers stopped short of concluding that brushing your teeth would ward off dementia, they believed the hygiene habit lowered the risk of developing the disorder.
So next time you’re tempted to skip brushing, think again. Taking just a few minutes to brush your teeth every morning and night can help you enjoy better oral health and these strange health benefits.
Lauren Katulka is a happily married freelance writer living on Australia’s Central Coast. When she’s not playing around with words she loves spending time in the kitchen, watching indie films and cuddling her Devon Rex cat, Gizmo.