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6 Ways Oral Hygiene Affects The Rest Of Your Body

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 08/01/11 09:32 AM ET   Updated: 10/01/11 06:12 AM ET

Your dentist has been nagging you to brush twice a day and floss daily for as long as you can remember -- and while those habits, along with regular cleanings, are key components to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, it turns out that how well you take care of your mouth could actually affect your entire body.

"Your mouth is the gateway to your body -- and it's not a very pristine gateway," HuffPost blogger Deepak Chopra wrote on the topic last month. "It's filled with bacteria -- in fact, there are more bacteria living in your mouth than there are people on earth."

In the past month alone, two new studies have come out about the surprising effects of poor oral care on the body as a whole. So we rounded up just a handful of the research out there on this mouth-body connection. Here are a few reasons of why brushing up on oral hygiene may help to keep the rest of your body in shape:

Reduced Risk Of Premature Birth
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A new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found an association between the use of a non-alcohol antimicrobial mouth rinse in pregnant women and a decreased rate of delivering babies prematurely.

Analyzing 226 women with periodontal disease, the researchers found that study participants who rinsed twice-daily with the mouthwash were about three fourths as likely to deliver early, reports Reuters.

While the study didn't look to find the reason for the difference, lead author Marjorie Jeffcoat of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine told Reuters that one theory is that gum-disease-induced inflammation could trigger early birth. (The publication also points out that the researchers used a Crest mouthwash, with staffing and funding from the brand's parent company, Proctor and Gamble.)
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