Vital health information in a minute

Brush up on oral health Healthy mouth, healthier you

Having a healthy smile isn’t just about how you look on the outside. It can make a big difference in how you feel. Oral health can affect self-esteem, school performance and attendance at both work and school. 1 Problems with your teeth can negatively affect your mood and emotional state, and may lead to embarrassment or anxiety in social situations. That’s why taking care of your mouth and seeking treatment for dental problems is so important. Your mouth can give clues about what’s happening in the rest of your body, too. A look in your mouth can tell your dentist or doctor a lot about your overall health. 2

Risk of infection The mouth is a place where bacteria can grow rapidly. Without frequent brushing and flossing, bacteria can lead to oral infections, tooth decay and gum disease. Certain bacteria may be able to travel from the mouth to the lungs, increasing the risk of pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Having diabetes can lower the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and increase the risk of a serious infection. What you can do: Brush, floss and use mouthwash to get rid of bacteria. Gum disease Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) on the teeth. Gum tissue may appear swollen and red and is likely to bleed. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and may be linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Having advanced gum disease may signal health problems and make it difficult to manage diabetes and other conditions. What you can do: Keep up with regular dental visits and follow your dentist’s advice.

Dry mouth A healthy flow of saliva helps clean teeth and neutralize acids that otherwise eat away at tooth enamel. Dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay and cavities. What you can do: Sip water or chew sugarless gum to moisten your mouth. Use an oral moisturizer, such as a spray or mouthwash. Oral cancers Watch for signs of cancer in the mouth, throat and tongue. Any open sores or changes in your lips, tongue or the lining of your mouth are worth getting checked out. What you can do: If you smoke, make a plan to quit. Talk to your dentist or doctor about your risk for oral cancers. Be sure to keep up with dental care and watch for warning signs that may signal problems. With the proper care, you can help keep your teeth and gums strong and your smile bright.

Sources: 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oral Health Basics. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/index.html (last reviewed/updated April 30, 2020). 2. Mayo Clinic. Oral health: A window to your overall health. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475 (last reviewed/updated June 4, 2019).

Offered by: Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company or their affiliates.

This information is for educational purposes only. It’s not medical advice. Always ask your health care provider for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. All Cigna products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America, Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York (New York, NY), Cigna Behavioral Health, Inc., Cigna Health Management, Inc., and HMO or service company subsidiaries of Cigna Health Corporation. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. All pictures are used for illustrative purposes only. 949205 10/21 © 2021 Cigna. Some content provided under license.

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