The oral health offers clues for your overall health as the problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body. Protect yourself by learning more about the connection
What is the connection between oral health and overall wellness?
Your mouth is teeming with bacteria like many other areas of the body and most of these are harmless. Normally, the natural defences of the body and good oral health care such as daily brushing and flossing can keep these bacteria under control. Without proper oral hygiene, the bacteria can reach levels which will lead to oral infections such as gum diseases and tooth decay.
Additionally, certain medications like antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, antidepressants and diuretics can reduce the saliva flow. The saliva washes the food away and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. This helps to protect you from the microbial invasion or the overgrowth which lead to disease. Oral bacteria and the inflammation are related to periodontitis which is a severe form of gum disease. Additionally, certain diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes lower the resistance of your body to the infection and could make the oral health more severe.
What are conditions which are linked to oral health?
Your oral health will contribute to various conditions and diseases such as:
- Endocarditis: It is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Usually, endocarditis occur when bacteria or the other germs from another part of your body like the mouth will spread through bloodstream and attach to the damaged areas of the heart.
- Pregnancy and birth: Periodontitis is linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Cardiovascular diseases: As per some research, heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke are linked to the inflammation and infections caused by the oral bacteria.
Certain conditions which affect your oral health are:
- HIV/AIDS: Oral problems such as painful mucosal lesions are common amoung people with HIV/AIDS.
- Diabetes: It reduces the resistance of your body against infection and this will put the gums at risk. Gum disease are more frequent and severe among people having diabetes. According to a recent research, people having gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Regular periodontal care will help to improve the diabetes control.
- Alzheimer’s disease: Worsening oral health is seen as progression of the Alzheimer’s disease.
- Osteoporosis: It causes the bones to become weak and brittle and this is linked to the periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Drugs for treating the osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
Other conditions linked to oral health include rheumatoid arthritis, eating disorders, head and neck cancers, Sjogren’s syndrome which is an immune system disordercausing dry mouth.
Considering these potential links, tell your dentist if you are taking any medications or have observed any changes in your overall health such as recent illness or have a chronic condition like diabetes.
How to protect my oral health?
In order to protect your oral health, you should practice good oral hygiene each day. Follow these tips:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit between the meal snacks.
- Floss daily.
- Replace the toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed.
- Avoid use of tobacco.
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings at dental clinic near you.
Contact your dentist as soon as you notice any oral health problems. Taking good care of your oral health is an investment in your overall wellness.