How Your Oral Health Impacts Longevity

We don't want to just live longer. We want to live better in those years too! Here are five ways that improving your oral health can make your life longer, happier, and more enjoyable.

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Hi, I’m Dr. B, practicing functional dentist for 35 years. I graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA in 1987 and am a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and Dental Board of California. I'm on a mission to empower people everywhere with the same evidence-based, easy-to-understand dental health advice that my patients get. Learn more about Dr. B

When we think about getting healthier, losing weight, and living longer — oral health rarely comes to mind.

We know we need a healthier heart, healthier lungs, a healthier brain…

But what about a healthier mouth?

The reality is that the mouth is connected to every other system in your body.

The state of your oral health can impact your heart, your lungs, susceptibility to dementia, the quality of your sleep, levels of inflammation and toxicity throughout the body, and even whether you have trouble conceiving or not.

This is how caring for your mouth will let you live a longer, healthier, better life.

Consider these two representations of the aging process.

 Squaring the Life Curve Survival Curve for Most People

In this first survival curve, quality of life steadily decreases as we approach the end of life.

This is perhaps what most of us have come to accept, especially as we watch parents and grandparents steadily decline in health.

I know this curve is representative of how my parents aged — both got Alzheimer’s and dementia at a young age, despite appearing otherwise healthy, however, they both had poor oral health. Perhaps if dentistry had known then what we know now, things might have been different for them.

This is how most of us age if we are not thinking preventatively and taking care of ourselves.

The second way to describe aging is called “squaring the life curve” because it involves maintaining a quality of life right up until the end of life.

squaring the life curve

This is what prevention, good diet, exercise, and taking care of our bodies physically and emotionally can do to the aging process: they can square it.

As a health practitioner, squaring the life curve is the foundation I use to approach health, and I encourage you to think of your own survival curve this way.

We spend far too much energy on living longer, but not increasing the quality of that longer period we’re alive for.

Imagine being 80 years old and being able to

  • Walk without a walker or wheelchair
  • Live without chronic illness
  • Hear and see your grandchildren
  • Do what you really love
  • Travel
  • Eat food that you love with a full set of fully functional teeth
  • Enjoy your life without pain

The way you take care of your oral health will affect all of those things — for better or worse.

Taking care of your mouth determines:

Without good oral health, you’ll have a steeper curve of decline and a poorer quality of life.

This is why it’s important to start now. Starting proper oral health habits now are key to squaring your own life curve.

By taking control of your oral health and preventing illness like periodontal disease, you won’t just live longer but you’ll be able to fully enjoy it up until the end.

5 Steps to Optimum Oral Health to Square Your Life Curve

Mark Burhenne DDS

Learn More: What Exactly Is the Mouth-Body Connection?