Too often, the health of your mouth is not considered when thinking about your overall well-being. But our bodies are a holistic system – each part affects the other. Your overall health affects your dental health, and vice-versa.
In this post, we’ll explore just a few ways that your oral health impacts your overall well-being, so that you can be empowered to live a healthier, happier life! Let’s get started now.
What’s The Connection Between Oral Health And Overall Health?
Your mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria, and most of them are harmless. Normally, you can keep them in check with good oral care, like brushing and flossing daily.
But without proper oral hygiene, oral infections such as tooth decay and gingivitis/periodontitis (gum disease) may occur – and if the bacteria from these diseases spreads throughout your body, your overall health could be at risk.
In addition, some disease such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS can compromise the body’s ability to fight off oral infections, and make them more severe.
What Health Conditions Can Be Caused By Poor Oral Care?
Severe oral infections such as periodontitis are associated with increased inflammation throughout the entire body. As these harmful bacteria spread throughout your mouth, they enter the tiny blood vessels and capillaries in the gums – spreading throughout your entire body.
Currently, this is thought to increase your risk of:
- Endocarditis – Endocarditis is a potentially dangerous infection of the heart’s inner lining, and it occurs when infection and inflammation from other parts of the body spread to the heart.
- Cardiovascular disease – While the precise mechanism is unknown, multiple systematic reviews have associated poor gum health (periodontitis) with a dramatically increased risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and clogged arteries.
- Pregnancy/birth problems – Poor oral health is associated with issues like low birth weight and premature birth.
- Stroke – At least one study has indicated that periodontal infection could be a risk factor for ischemic stroke.
What Health Conditions Can Affect My Mouth?
Some non-oral health conditions can have serious negative effects on your mouth.
- Diabetes – Diabetes reduces your body’s ability to fight infection, and high blood sugar levels that are unregulated can lead to serious gum disease and tooth decay. In addition, diabetes can cause xerostomia (dry mouth), which reduces saliva flow significantly.
- HIV/AIDS – Diseases such as HIV/AIDS that compromise the immune system can reduce your ability to fight back against an oral infection.
- Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis can damage your jawbone, causing issues like brittle teeth and tooth loss.
So, What Should I Do?
The best way to ensure that your oral health is not affecting your overall health – and vice-versa – is to see a dentist regularly for a 6-month oral exam and teeth cleaning. You should also maintain good oral hygiene habits on your own.
If you do so, your dentist will be able to catch any potential issues before they become serious – and you’ll enjoy a better level of overall health and well-being.