Why your overall health stands to benefit from regular visits to the dentist.

Did you know that regular dental check-ups and visits with the hygienist is as important to your health as your fitness routine or eating a healthy diet?


There is a growing body of research that shows that gum disease dramatically increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, low birthweight and premature births, dementia and cancer. Isn’t it time that you revisit your dental habits?


Going to the dentist every 6 months is a thing of the past for most people. Costs, and a decrease in dental medical aid benefits, are the main reasons given when asked. But if you ask the same people about taking care of the rest of their body, the answer is quite the opposite.

Research shows that the average woman spends a full month at the hairdressser during her lifetime. In South Africa, that equates to an average spend of R7000 per year. This excludes any other beauty treatments and products.

If you look at gym memberships to stay fit and healthy, people in South Africa spend an average of R 5400 on gym memberships and exercise equipment alone according to the statistics website numbeo.com. This excludes healthy snacks and shakes which have become a booming industry in the South African market with the introduction of the banting diet.

Whilst, as dentists, we do not want you to stop going to the gym, quite the opposite. We now know that smokers, diabetics, stressed individuals and overweight people are more prone to developing gum disease. We do however find that very few people understand the benefit of seeing their dentist and hygienist every year and that they are unable to make the connection between visiting the dentist and being healthy.

Let us ellaborate further by saying that when you brush your teeth, you’re doing much more than just getting rid of bad breath or removing that piece of spinach that your dinner date didn’t mention. In 2006, Dr. Amar, a professor of molecular and cell biology at Boston University, did a study on how periodontal or gum health relates to complications during pregnancy, heart diseases, diabetes and osteoporosis. The link to heart diseases, in particular, is emerging as a substantial threat, he says. Meanwhile, the association with diabetes has been found to work both ways, meaning if you have severe periodontal or gum disease, you should probably get checked for diabetes.

More research data is coming out linking gum disease to a host of other very serious health issues such as the risk of developing dementia and alzheimers disease which can increase by up to 70% in people with gum disease. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4811242/Gum-disease-raises-risk-dementia-70.html#ixzz4qfF1fQEo . Furthermore, the latest compelling evidence indicates that the inflammation in your mouth leading to gum disease can significantly raise your risk of cancer. http://time.com/4891340/inflammation-mouth-breast-cancer/

With up to 80% of all adults suffering from mild to severe forms of gum disease, don’t you think it is worthwhile to explore opportunities to decrease your risk of developing potentially fatal diseases by making sure gum disease is eliminated from the mouth?

And the answer is really so simple. Regular professional check-ups and cleanings with a good dentist and hygienist decrease your risk of ever developing gum disease significantly. It also increases the impact of any dental treatment you’ve had, as the accumulation of bacteria containing plaque is one of the main reasons for fillings to fail. So not only will you be more healthy, but you will look more healthy with healthy teeth and gums.

So why not make it your mission to get ‘Back to the dentist’ at least once per year. Your body will thank you for it. And at a fraction of the cost of spending money on hair and beauty treatments and health and fitness, it should be the easiest money you will ever spend.

Here are 10 more reasons how your body might be telling you that it is time to go back to the dentist:

  1. You have bad breath
  2. Your gums bleed while flossing or brushing
  3. You have food getting stuck between some teeth
  4. You have tooth ache
  5. You have diabetes or are at risk
  6. Your gums are puffy or swollen
  7. You have tartar buildup
  8. Your teeth are yellowing
  9. Your teeth are stained
  10. You have chronic health issues


Dr Christa Engelbrecht is a general dentist with an interest in cosmetic dentistry practicing in Stellenbosch. Dr Engelbrecht spent 12 years practicing dentistry abroad before returning to South Africa. Upon her return she was shocked to see the deterioration in the general attendance of the average South African to the dentist every year. Whilst it is easy to turn the pages in any magazine and see articles about products and services to get that Hollywood smile, very little is being done to educate Jo public about the benefit of just going to have things checked out and cleaned. Whilst she is highly skilled and trained to perform a side range of treatment, she is passionate about educating people about those benefits and is building her dental practice around the principles of general care and management.