How Your Oral Health is Directly Linked to Overall Health

You might be surprised to learn that oral hygiene goes way beyond looking after the teeth and gums. It also affects your overall health. This happens in two ways. First, your oral health could be an indicator of issues in other parts of your body. Secondly, it’s a sign you have oral problems that need addressing.

 

So what is the connection between the two, and how can you keep each healthy to support overall wellness? Read on to find out more:

The connection between oral health and overall health

 

The mouth is a hive of bacteria, and mostly these are harmless. However, this is the entry point to other areas of your body, such as the respiratory and digestive tract. Unfortunately, some of the bacteria in your mouth or any that enters here can cause issues in these systems.

 

Typically, if you have good oral health, including brushing and flossing frequently, this keeps harmful bacteria at bay. However, if you have poor oral health, bacteria in this region can cause gum disease and tooth decay and could potentially lead to other serious illnesses that you’d rather avoid.

 

The mouth also produces saliva. This is a natural and helpful process that neutralizes bacteria in the mouth. This protects you from swallowing harmful microbes that could lead to further issues. However, if you’re taking medications such as painkillers and decongestants, this can reduce saliva.

 

There is also evidence that increased bacteria in the mouth and inflammation caused by gum disease may contribute to other diseases in the body. There’s also the issue that conditions such as diabetes decrease the body’s ability to fight off infections, and this can lead to problems with oral health.

 

Both oral health and general health are intertwined, making it essential to look after the teeth and gums to prevent future ailments.

Health issues caused by poor oral health

 

Poor oral hygiene has been linked to a number of health issues over the years. Some prevalent examples include:

Heart disease

 

While the connection between heart disease and oral health is still being researched, some studies suggest that strokes and clogged arteries could be linked to the bacteria in the mouth.

Endocarditis

 

This condition is caused by an infection in the lining of the heart chambers. This is typically caused by bacteria entering the area and from other parts of the body, including the mouth. Anything digested enters the bloodstream and can attach itself to areas of the heart, causing health problems.

Pregnancy issues

 

It might come as a surprise that how you care for your teeth and gums can have an impact on pregnancy. Oral diseases such as gum disease can lead to low birth weight and premature births.

Lung conditions 

 

As mentioned before, bacteria from the mouth can enter the respiratory tract. If this gets into the lungs, this can cause respiratory diseases and pneumonia.

 

Alongside ensuring good oral hygiene, some health issues may affect oral health. Below are some conditions that require individuals to pay extra attention to dental care.

Diabetes

 

This health condition affects the body’s power to fight infections, which in turn puts areas of the body at risk, including the gums. Studies show that people with diabetes are more likely to get frequent bouts of gum disease. Plus, it is typically more severe compared to those without diabetes.

Dementia

 

As we age, conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are more common. These conditions can lead to worsening oral care like mental health declines.

Osteoporosis

 

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to weaken, and this can be linked to issues with tooth loss and bone weakening in the jaw. In addition, some medications used to treat this condition are also linked to slight risks of damage to the jawbones.

HIV/AIDS

 

People with HIV/AIDS may experience mucosal lesions and poor oral health. 

Eating disorders

 

Individuals suffering from eating disorders often have issues with oral health. This is due to disruption in how the mouth produces saliva to keep the bacteria at bay.

 

Other lifestyle factors contribute to poor oral hygiene. A significant factor is smoking. This habit is linked to numerous health issues and oral cancer.

 

However, there are some steps you can take to reduce oral health issues.

How to improve your oral health

Brush teeth and gums daily

 

A good oral health routine should include brushing teeth daily. Use fluoride toothpaste to ensure a complete and fresh clean. Plus, opt for a medium bristled brush to ensure gums stay healthy. If possible, choose an electric toothbrush as these are said to remove more plaque and bacteria than manual brushing.

Floss daily

 

The Department of Health recommends that alongside brushing, you floss regularly. This removes food between the teeth, which can lead to bacteria build-up. There are numerous small brushes perfect for getting in-between the teeth. Your dentist in Ashville NC, can advise on the best options.

Replace your toothbrush every three to four months

 

Even if your toothbrush doesn’t look worn out, it’s best to replace it after three to four months. If the bristles are splayed before this, replace them sooner. This ensures your toothbrush is fully effective and clean for future brushes.

Eat healthy food and drink water

 

A great way to complement good oral health is by eating well and drinking plenty of water. However, too much sugary and processed food can attack the teeth and gum and lead to cavities and gum disease.

Visit your dentist regularly

 

To ensure your teeth stay healthy, visit your dentist every six months. This check-up will highlight any issues so you can get them sorted immediately. Regularly deep cleaning also encourages good oral hygiene. Check with Asheville family dentistry to find out about routine appointments and treatment services. Regularly having an appointment booked with the dentist can also help you build better habits regarding your oral health, as knowing that your teeth will be seen will inspire you to look after them better.