Resolving to Get Healthier in the New Year? Don’t Overlook How Improving Your Oral Health Can Help

It won’t be long now before many of us will be making – or thinking about making – a New Year’s resolution or two. Most of those resolutions will be about health in some way: lose weight, exercise more…that kind of thing. Some will succeed. Many will fail. Maybe the goal wasn’t specific enough. Maybe they just gave up after struggling a bit.

Truth be told, though, the quest for a healthier life isn’t an all-or-nothing affair. Even small improvements can pay big dividends.

A study published earlier this month in Nature Medicine illustrates the point nicely. As MedPage Today reported,

Even short bouts of physical activity in an otherwise sedentary lifestyle were associated with a significantly lower risk for dying, researchers reported.

In a study of more than 25,000 older adults who didn’t regularly exercise, engaging in a median of just three bouts of vigorous activity for up to 2 minutes each at some point during the day was linked with a 39% lower risk for all-cause mortality versus no activity at all…, according to Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, of the University of Sydney in Australia, and colleagues.

Even the minimum of 1.5 minute-long bouts of exercise per day reaped mortality benefits compared with not engaging in any activity at all…. But those at the top of the range in this cohort — getting 11 short bursts of vigorous activity daily (about 16 minutes total) — saw all-cause mortality risk drop by even more.

That’s impressive. And previous studies of different health-related behaviors, such as eating patterns, have similarly shown how incremental changes can have big impacts.

Consider the difference that simply improving your oral health can make with respect to your whole body health and well-being.

Healthier eating – fewer sugars and other refined carbs, more real food – and improved hygiene can mean healthier gums, for instance. Healthier gums can mean a lower risk of other chronic inflammatory conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cognitive decline, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, and even some cancers. Replacing old mercury amalgam fillings with biocompatible restorations can lower your risk of mercury toxicity and the systemic health problems that can ensue.

Getting holistic, individualized treatment for a TMJ disorder can mean relief from chronic pain and the restored vitality that follows. Getting fitted with a custom appliance for sleep apnea can lower your risk of the many health problems the condition has been linked to, including cardiometabolic issues, chronic pain, and early death.

As 2022 winds down, we encourage you to think about what you want in the new year – what’s important to you, what you want to improve. Maybe it’s the baby step of more short bursts of activity through the day. Maybe it’s a change in what and how you eat. Maybe it’s finally dealing with dental obstacles that have been keeping you from living your best life.

Only you can make that decision. It’s your values and your priorities that matter.

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