The link between oral health and overall health
Taking good care of your mouth, teeth, and gums is not only a dental necessity but also essential to maintain good overall health. Any dental problem in itself can be very painful and has the capacity to affect our normal life. A simple toothache can cause intense pain, loss of appetite and sleep, and have a negative effect on the state of mind. Alternatively, if your overall health is suffering, you are more likely to suffer from dental problems as well.
“How can bad teeth and gums affect my health?”
The mouth is a key entry point to our digestive and respiratory systems. Most of the common bacteria and germs found in the mouth are harmless. Regular dental care and the body’s immune system are usually enough to destroy and fight such invaders, but often a condition can develop and spread to other parts of the body. Below are a few examples of the health issues that can have poor dental conditions as one of the root causes.
- Certain heart problems: Several studies suggest that inflammation and infections caused by bacteria in the mouth can be responsible for or aggravate various heart diseases, such as clogged arteries and stroke. Another heart condition, endocarditis can also be linked with dental health. It occurs when bacteria or germs from another part of the body, including mouth, travel to the heart and infect the lining on the inside of the heart chambers or valves.
- Problems during pregnancy and complications at the time of birth
- Respiratory issues: A dental bacterial infection may spread to the lungs, causing respiratory problems such as pneumonia.
Additionally, if oral infections, i.e. tooth decay and gum infection, are ignored or not treated completely in time, they can fester and spread to other parts of the body as well.
“Can my dental health suffer because of other problems?”
No ailment affects only an isolated body part. And the mouth is usually an exceptional indicator of the overall health status. Thus, it is very common to do a saliva test to check for various ailments in the body. There are many conditions that can affect your dental fitness directly and manifest decay or damage to your mouth, teeth, or gums, which serve as visible clues to diagnose overall health issues. Here are some common examples of the connection between dental and overall health:
- Diseases such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes weaken the immune system of the body. This makes the mouth also more prone to infections. It is very common for people with diabetes to develop gum infections. And alternatively, people with gum infections often struggle to maintain the correct blood sugar level.
- People who suffer from osteoporosis (where bones become weak and lose tissue) also usually have bad dental health – damage/degradation of jawbones and loss of teeth.
- The steady deterioration of oral health can also indicate worsening of Alzheimer’s disease. A patient with a memory issue is more likely to forget brushing their teeth or miss their daily dental routine. On the other hand, some studies are also exploring the possibility that people with bad oral health are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s as certain gum bacteria can cause nerve damage in the brain and thus increasing the possibility of dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Healthy mouth, healthy you
Make sure to keep yourself safe by keeping your whole body healthy – including the mouth! Along with consuming a balanced, healthy diet and exercising regularly, keep an eye out for any symptoms – oral or otherwise. When needed, contact your physician to obtain a diagnosis and cure!