8 Health Issues Linked With Bad Oral Health
Oral health is more important than many people realize. Your oral health can offer clues about your overall health and oral health problems can affect your entire body. Taking care of your oral health will result in better general health and wellbeing.
How are oral health and overall health connected?
The mouth is naturally full of bacteria – most of which is harmless. Your mouth also leads to your digestive and respiratory systems, and some bacteria can cause problems in other parts of the body. Good oral health keeps your body’s defenses up and bacteria under control. Flossing and brushing daily keeps bacteria at a minimum and protects you from tooth decay and gum disease.
Medications can affect the health of your mouth and increase the risk of poor health. Decongestants, painkillers, antihistamines, and antidepressants can all reduce saliva flow which usually washes away food and neutralizes acids. Basically taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums is good for your overall health, and taking care of your overall health is good for your mouth.
What health issues are linked to poor oral health?
Endocarditis is a serious heart condition where the inner lining of your heart’s chambers and valves are heavily inflamed. Endocarditis is usually caused by an infection where bacteria or germs from your body spread through the bloodstream. Bad bacteria in the mouth can end up spreading and attaching to damaged areas in your heart. If not treated endocarditis can damage or destroy these heart valves.
While the jury is still out on whether cardiovascular disease is caused by poor oral health, there have been some interesting studies connecting the two. Research suggested that patients with gum disease had a higher risk of developing heart disease, that poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood (endocarditis), and that tooth loss patterns are connected to coronary artery disease.
Pregnant woman are at an increased risk of periodontitis which can cause complications for mother and baby. Periodontitis has been linked to increased risk of tooth loss, preterm birth and low birth weight. This inflammatory condition is caused by bacteria that affects the tissues surrounding the teeth and can ultimately pull the teeth away from the gums.
Older patients are at a higher risk of aspiration pneumonia. Dental plaque from the mouth can find its way into the lungs during sleep, and cause pneumonia. Studies have shown that the risk of pneumonia increased significantly in groups of people with higher dental caries and missing teeth and decreased significantly with frequent tooth brushing and regular dental cleaning.
Reducing the bodies resistance to infection puts the gums at risk. Gum disease has been found to be higher in patients who suffer from diabetes and research shows that people with gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.
Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease and is linked to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Bone weakness can affect the mouth ridges that hold dentures in place while the disease also has an impact on the part of the jaw that supports the teeth.
Poor oral hygiene is often seen in Alzheimer’s patients as the disease progresses. But gum disease is also linked to the faster cognitive decline in patients. One study found that patients with gum disease declined in memory ability six times faster than those who did not.
Poor oral health has been linked to some cancers, including a 75% increase in the risk of liver cancer. The liver contributes to eliminating bacteria from the body and poor oral health could be contributing to oral bacteria living in the liver.
How can I protect my overall health?
Taking care of your oral health can lead to better overall health outcomes. Brushing twice a day, flossing, eating a healthy diet that includes firm vegetables and scheduling regular checkups with your dentist is key to staying healthy.
If you currently suffer from any of the mentioned diseases, take extra care with your oral health habits and book an appointment with a dentist to keep your mouth healthy.
Our gentle dentists can work with you to develop a good oral hygiene plan that takes care of your mouth and your long-term health. Book an appointment today.