Maintaining Good Oral Health for Your Overall Health

woman flossing

Having good oral health is important for maintaining a healthy body and smile. Many people do not realize the connection between oral health and your overall health. Our mouths are full of mostly harmless bacteria; however, it also is the entry point to our digestive and respiratory tracts where some of these bacteria may cause disease.[1]

Here are some tips to maintaining good oral health and preventing disease:

Brush thoroughly twice a day and floss daily.

Oral health starts with clean teeth. Keeping the area where your teeth meet your gums clean can help prevent gum disease.[2] Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place and is caused by poor brushing and flossing habits.[3] These poor habits can lead to a buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, on your teeth. Once this plaque hardens it can lead to sore, bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, and even tooth loss.[3]

Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.

Dentist with patientEven if you have no natural teeth or have dentures, visiting the dentist is crucial to maintaining proper oral health.[4]  Plaque that isn’t removed from regular brushing and flossing may harden and form “tartar” that only a professional can remove.[3]

Do not use any tobacco products.

If you smoke, quit. Smoking is the most significant risk factor for gum disease.[3]  

Eat a healthy diet and limit food with added sugars.

Diet and nutrition affect the health of the tissues in the mouth.[5] The consumption of sugars has been associated with an increased risk of developing cavities.[5] Sugar can come in many forms. Usually ingredients ending in ‘ose’ are sugars, for example: sucrose, fructose and glucose are just three types. These sugars can damage your teeth. If you need to snack between meals, choose foods that do not contain added sugars. Family in a circle smiling

How can AFSPA Help?

AFSPA is here to help connect you to the dental care you need. We offer four dental insurance plans including a true international plan for members living overseas. All plans cover two cleanings per calendar year for each member. The best part? You can enroll for our dental plans at any time - no need to wait for Open Season. For more information on these plans and how to enroll, click here

AFSPA also offers an easy-to-use dental and vision discount plan that allows you to pay a reduced price when services are received. You can enroll anytime. Click here to learn more.   

For more information on oral health and how to maintain good dental health click here.  


[5] Touger-Decker R, Mobley C. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: oral health and nutrition. J Acad Nutr Diet 2013;113(5):693-701, https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/nutrition-and-oral-health.


[4] “Oral Health Tips.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 Feb. 2021, www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/tips.html.


[2] “Brush up on Taking Care of Your Teeth.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 June 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20045536.

[3] “Periodontal (Gum) Disease.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease/more-info#:~:text=Back%20to%20top-,Overview,on%20the%20teeth%20and%20harden.


[1] “Oral Health: A Window to Your Overall Health.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 4 June 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475.