Most people don’t realize just how important oral health is to their overall health. What happens in your mouth can impact your entire body in both good and bad ways. If you are dealing with inflammation and infection in your mouth it often leads to poor health in other areas of your body, and oral health has even been linked to chronic illness such as heart disease and diabetes. If you want to improve your health this year, show your mouth some love with these four tips.

Eat More Fruits and Veggies

fruits-vegetables-heart-shapeIf this sounds like a weight loss resolution, consider that eating more fruits and vegetables (and a healthier diet all around), can help you lose weight at the same time that it improves your oral health. Nutrients in fruits and vegetables help to build your immune system, improving your ability to fight off infection like gum disease, inflammation, and bacteria in your mouth. Raw, crispy fruits also help reduce plaque buildup on the teeth, leading to fresher breath and fewer cavities.

Quit Smoking

Smoking is one of the main causes of oral decay, including tooth discoloration, cavities, receding gums, infection, and lung and oral cancers. Both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco can double your risk of losing your teeth, but fortunately once you stop smoking, the risk of tooth loss and other diseases immediately decrease.

Start Flossing

If you think your mouth is healthy because you already brush twice a day, it could be a lot healthier if you add flossing to that routine. Flossing helps remove hard-to-reach plaque that builds up between teeth and near the gum line, where you toothbrush can’t reach, and where gum disease often begins. It only takes 2 minutes to floss your teeth, so if you add that to your 2 minutes of brushing in the morning or night, you’re still only spending about 5 minutes a day to get a healthier mouth.

Go See a Dentist

Even with the best at-home oral health care, there is no substitute for seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, show your mouth some love by schedule an appointment. Your dentist can help you identify and prevent oral health problems before they become major issues, and may notice subtle signs of disease that you would otherwise not see on your own. There are affordable places you can go for dental care, including the Dental Clinic at Roseman University, if you don’t have a dentist or you can’t afford to go to the dentist because you don’t have insurance.