How Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Well-Being

Oral health is about so much more than white teeth and fresh breath.

Its importance goes far beyond the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums.

Because the mouth is the primary entryway into the body, poor oral health can have negative consequences that affect your entire body.

Teeth that ache, gums that bleed, and breath that smells bad are all indicators of poor oral health.

Bacteria that are born in your mouth can quickly get into your bloodstream and leave a trail of infection and inflammation.

It's essential to practice good oral hygiene and to see your dentist regularly to avoid serious risk to your overall well-being.

In the article below, we will talk about a few of the severe health problems that can be caused by poor oral health.

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What's The Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health?

Like many other areas of your body, your mouth is full of bacteria. Luckily, most of them are harmless.

But since your mouth is the entry point to your digestive system and respiratory tracts, some of those bacteria can cause disease.

Your body's greatest defense against the bacteria in your mouth is good oral health care, such as brushing and flossing.

Without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Certain medications like decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics, and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow.

Your saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in your mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and lead to disease.

Reduced saliva flow can make you more susceptible to these diseases.

Studies have suggested that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease could play a role in some diseases.

Certain diseases, like HIV/AIDS, can lower your body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

Now that we know how everything is related, we'll talk about a few diseases that can be caused by poor oral health.

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A healthy smile and mouth can help keep you healthier overall

Cardiovascular Disease

Having poor oral health can put you at risk for heart disease.

If your gums are inflamed due to the bacteria that cause periodontal disease, the same bacteria can get into your bloodstream and cause your arteries to build up with plaque and harden.

The hardening of your arteries is called atherosclerosis, and it is very serious.

It leads to blood flow problems and heart blockages, and it increases your likelihood of having a heart attack.

The damaging impact on your arteries and blood vessels can also lead to hypertension and increase your risk of stroke.

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Diabetes

It's relatively well-known that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease.

However, surprising new studies suggest that severe gum disease can contribute to diabetes because it affects blood glucose control.

Because periodontal disease is an infection, bacteria produce toxins that affect carbohydrate metabolism in individual cells.

It's also believed that the host response to periodontal bacteria can cause insulin resistance and, therefore, blood glucose levels.

This two-way link should be a wake-up call to take care of your teeth, especially since the incidence of diabetes is rising.

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Dementia

Poor oral health can affect your brain.

Substances that are released from gums inflamed by infection can actually kill brain cells and lead to memory loss.

Dementia and possibly even Alzheimer's disease can result from gingivitis when the bacteria in the mouth spreads to the nerve channels or enters the bloodstream.

If the threat of Alzheimer's isn't enough to get you to brush your teeth, I don't know what will.

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Lung Infections

People with periodontal disease will have more bacteria breeding in their mouths, so they're more likely to inhale germs that can lead to lung infections like pneumonia.

For people with pre-existing lung problems like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, gum disease can make it even worse.

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Pregnancy Complications

Everyone should practice good oral hygiene, but expectant mothers should be even more mindful of their oral health.

Hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy can cause women to develop oral infections much easier.

Any infection in the mother's body increases her risk of experiencing pregnancy complications.

Oral health issues like periodontitis and gingivitis have been known to lead to premature birth and low birth weight in infants.

Gum disease puts both mother and baby at risk of experiencing severe health issues.

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Joint Health

Most of the time, bruxism (teeth grinding) is mild.

But if it's frequent and severe, grinding your teeth can aggravate the joints in your lower jaw, also known as the temporomandibular joints, or TMJs.

This can lead to pain or tightness in the joint area and even headaches and earaches.

Bruxism is obviously bad news for your teeth as well.

Grinding your teeth can wear down your enamel, cause increased tooth sensitivity, and result in chipped or broken teeth.

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See your dentist regularly to prevent oral health issues

Prevention

The best way to prevent serious health issues caused by bad oral health is to practice good oral hygiene.

Practicing good oral hygiene isn't difficult.

It consists of:

  • Brushing your teeth and gums for two minutes at least twice a day.
  • Flossing your teeth daily.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco products.
  • Use toothpaste and mouthwash products that contain fluoride.
  • Limit sugary foods and drinks.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet for optimum nutrition.

Good oral hygiene also includes regular trips to the dentist.

Ideally, you should see your dentist every six months, and at least once a year for oral exams.

Your dentist will be able to spot issues before you can, and will prevent your oral health issues from spiraling into problems that affect your overall well-being.

If you'd like to see a dentist, contact the team at Hylan Dental Care.

They have years of experience keeping mouths healthy and smiles bright, and they'd love to help you today.

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