Did you know that the health of your gums, teeth, and mouth has a connection to your overall well being? For this reason, it's important to address any dental issues before they affect your general health.
What’s the Relationship Between Oral Health and General Health?
Your mouth, like other parts of your body, is at the risk of bacteria attack; most of these bacterias are harmless. Even the harmful ones can be kept at bay by the body’s natural defenses and proper oral care practices such as brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing. However, the mouth is also the entry point to the digestive tracts. Without proper oral hygiene, bacteria levels can increase and cause infections such as gum disease and tooth decay.
Medications such as antidepressants, painkillers, decongestants, diuretics, and antihistamines can reduce the flow of saliva. Reduced quantities of saliva in the mouth take away benefits such as neutralizing acids produced by bacteria and killing microbes, which can lead to diseases.
Studies have shown that oral bacteria and inflammation caused by gum disease increase the chances of contracting illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. Also, diseases like HIV/AIDS and diabetes lower the body’s immunity, making health problems more severe.
What Are the Conditions and Diseases Linked to Oral Health?
Oral health may contribute to the following diseases:
- Cardiovascular disease: Research suggests that clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke may be caused by the inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria.
- Endocarditis: This is a condition affecting the inner lining on the chambers or valves of the heart. It’s caused by the spreading of bacteria through the bloodstream, hence attaching to certain parts of the heart. The bacteria can result from the mouth as a result of poor dental health or from other body parts.
- Pregnancy complications: Gum disease in expectant mothers has been linked to premature births and low birth weights.
- Pneumonia: Certain harmful bacteria, which may exist in the mouth due to poor dental hygiene, may be pulled in the lungs resulting in pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
The following conditions may affect your overall health:
- HIV/AIDS: People with HIV/AIDS suffer from oral problems including excruciating mucosal lesions.
- Diabetes: Diabetes puts your gums at risk by reducing the body’s immunity. Gum diseases are common and severe among diabetic people. Research has also shown that people with gum disease have a hard time controlling their blood sugar levels. Proper dental care practices can improve diabetes control.
- Osteoporosis: This condition weakens the bones and is associated with periodontal loss of bones and teeth. Some of the drugs used to treat the condition also cause damage to the bones of the jaw.
- Alzheimer’s disease: As the disease progresses, there are clear signs of deteriorating oral health.
How Can You Protect Your Oral Health?
To protect your oral health, you need to practice good oral hygiene daily. Some of the practices that contribute to good oral hygiene include flossing daily and brushing your teeth after every meal using a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste that contains fluoride.
After brushing and flossing, use mouthwash to remove food particles that remain in the mouth. Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush after every three months or as soon as the bristles are worn out.
You also need to schedule regular dental check-ups and mouth cleanings. Look for a dentist who offers the most advanced services available. The dentist should be well-equipped to handle any oral health problems that arise. When you visit your dentist, inform him/her about any medications that you may be taking and any changes in your overall health too - especially if you have a chronic disease such as diabetes.
Poor dental hygiene can affect your overall health. Maintain good oral care and seek help from a qualified dental professional.