Your oral health affects more than just your smile. It has been shown that your oral health can also be linked to cardiovascular health, birth complications, and more. You should be taking good care of your teeth to help protect your heart and keep your entire body healthy. Here is a list of some of the ways that your dental health affects your overall health.
Dental Health vs. Your Body
Our bodies are complex and our oral health can offer insight to what is happening with our overall health – and vice versa. Throughout the body there are areas that contain bacteria. While most of this bacteria is good, some of it isn’t so harmless. Your mouth is one of these areas. The mouth is the sole entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease and other health issues. Your body’s natural defenses and maintaining your oral health daily are enough to keep bacteria under control. However, Mayo Clinic explains, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease.
Studies show that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis might be linked to some different diseases. Some of these diseases, like diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can reduce the body’s ability to fight infection and make oral health issues worse.
Conditions Linked to Oral Health
Your oral health could be a contributing factor to various diseases and conditions, like:
This is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium). It typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, like the mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to specific areas of the heart.
Although the connection is still being studied, it is understood that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke could be connected to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
Pregnancy and birth complications
Periodontitis has been linked to low birth weight and even premature birth.
Some bacteria in your mouth can flow into the lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
By reducing the body’s ability to fight infection, diabetes can put your gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research has also shown that those with gum disease have a more difficult time controlling blood sugar levels.
Oral health conditions like mucosal lions are common in people that have HIV/AIDS.
This bone-weakening disease can cause periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Medications that can treat this condition carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
Worsening oral health is seen as this disease progresses.
Additionally, other conditions like eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers, and immune disorders can be linked to oral health.
How to Protect Your Oral Health
Seeing how oral health can affect your overall health can reinforce just how important it is to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Proper dental care can help stop some of these issues altogether or prevent your dental health from contributing to other underlying health conditions. Here are some of the best practices from Medical News Today for keeping your smile healthy:
- Brush your teeth regularly but not aggressively. You should be brushing your teeth twice a day, however, using the correct technique is important. You should use small, circular motions brushing every surface of each tooth. This should take 2 to 3 minutes. Brushing too hard can damage your teeth and gums. When this happens, you might experience tooth sensitivity, permanent damage to the protective enamel on the teeth, and gum erosion.
- Use fluoride. Fluoride is a natural element that comes from the earth’s soil. Fluoride can prevent cavities and is a common ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwash, however, not all of these products contain it. Check your ingredients list and be sure you are purchasing products with this added ingredient to help prevent tooth decay.
- Floss once a day. Flossing removes plaque and food that are lodged between the teeth. These tight spaces are hard for a toothbrush to reach, so brushing alone doesn’t remove all the plaque from your mouth. Gently floss once per day for the best results.
- See your dentist regularly. You should have a regular appointment with your dentist set for every six months. During this routine exam, the health of your mouth will be examined and a hygienist will deep clean the teeth, removing plaque and hardened tartar.
Make an Appointment with Niles Family Dentistry
If you want to protect your oral health — and your overall health — make an appointment with Niles Family Dentistry today. We want to be your family dentist and promise to treat you with the very best, state-of-the-art care.