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What’s your New Year’s Resolution for 2016? Are you hoping to lose weight? Eliminate a bad habit? For most of us the answer is at least one — or all — of the above. Every New Year we set goals for ourselves that are typically S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely) goals.

For instance, maybe you are losing weight for your brother’s summer wedding — very timely. What would happen, if we set New Year’s resolutions based on results for our body’s inside, rather than those produced on the outside?

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half the American population has some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease (also known as gingivitis and periodontitis, depending on how far it has progressed) occurs when the gums become inflamed due to excessive bacteria and plaque build-up on the teeth. If this inflammation is left untreated, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets and resulting in bone loss.

Now that you feel the need to brush your teeth, we should probably make a connection between periodontal disease and your New Year’s resolution. When the gums pull away from the teeth and create those pockets, the bacteria that caused the periodontitis in the first place begins to infiltrate the exposed, soft gum tissue.

From there, these little microorganisms have a direct line to your bloodstream. Yes, bacteria from your mouth can enter your blood. Once they are in your bloodstream, these bacteria have access to all parts of the body. Periodontal disease is even a risk factor for cancers, heart and lung diseases, diabetes and premature / low birth-weight babies.

If you’re considering adding avoid periodontal disease to your New Year’s resolution list, we applaud you and are happy to provide some easy ways to achieve that goal. First of all, good oral hygiene is crucial to preventing periodontal disease.

This means brushing twice per day, for two minutes each time, and flossing at least once per day. You can take prevention measures one step further with a visit to your local dentist — at least twice a year is recommended. If you don’t have a dentist, try one of ours at a Smiles Dental location nearest you!

Just remember, a healthy mouth leads to a healthier body. Resolving to better your dental health this New Year can help you achieve the rest of your New Year goals!