Your oral health reveals a lot more about your overall physical health than you may know. Poor dental health and failure to adhere to a strict dental hygiene routine can contribute to a variety of health conditions such as periodontitis, gum disease, tooth decay, and oral infections. But did you know that your oral health is also directly related to your overall physical health?
Certain serious diseases and bodily ailments can manifest symptoms in the oral cavity. Going to the dentist on a regular basis for a teeth cleaning or oral checkup can help identify and diagnose these types of illnesses earlier and result in more effective treatment options.
Does Your Oral Health Have an Impact on Your Overall Health?
Research has conclusively shown that yes, oral and overall physical health are directly linked to one another. Some oral afflictions such as tooth decay and infections can be symptoms of deeper underlying health issues that require further investigation upon discovery.
Unfortunately, oral health is often ignored or regarded as less important than overall physical health. This methodology can be incredibly harmful to a patient’s well-being. When evaluating a patient’s overall health, it’s equally important to pay attention to the state of their oral health as this can often provide a deeper understanding of what’s really going on. The mouth is like a gateway to your overall health and should be treated as such at all times.
Adhering to a strict oral care routine that includes brushing and flossing on a regular basis is a good place to start. Taking care of your oral health has been proven to ward off oral infections that have been linked to serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, routine oral examinations can help to quickly identify symptoms of these diseases, so that the proper treatments can be administered as soon as possible.
Which Health Conditions Are Linked to Poor Oral Health?
Before the pandemic, you probably didn’t think much about the fact that your mouth is full of bacteria. Not to worry, though, because a lot of it is actually good bacteria that protects your teeth and oral cavity against infections. Brushing your teeth and flossing on a regular basis also helps keep the bad bacteria at bay and keep your mouth clean and fresh.
Failing to maintain a solid oral hygiene routine, however, can lead to tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontitis. All of these infections can slowly start to spread throughout your body and weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to serious illnesses.
Here are some of the health conditions that are linked to your oral health.
Also referred to as infective endocarditis and bacterial endocarditis in the medical community, endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. It’s caused by harmful bacterial infections from other parts of the body, including the oral cavity, that make their way into the heart valve through the bloodstream.
Studies have shown that patients who have gum disease or severe inflammation are at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or other type of cardiac event. Although the exact correlation between cardiovascular disease and gum disease is unknown, many scientists predict it could have something to do with harmful bacteria that travel from the oral cavity to various vital organs throughout the body, including the heart.
Pregnancy and Birth Complications
During pregnancy, the female body endures a great deal of trauma and hormonal changes that can lead to a series of oral health issues including gestational periodontitis. Symptoms of gestational periodontitis are the same as regular gum disease:
- Redness in the gums
- Gums that are prone to bleeding during brushing or flossing
It’s important to maintain a good oral health routine before, during, and after pregnancy. Gum disease or periodontitis during pregnancy can result in severe pregnancy and birth complications that can put the health of yourself and your baby at risk. It’s been linked to premature birth and a dangerously low birth weight for infants.
Diabetes can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria in your oral cavity because it actively weakens your body’s natural immune response and disease-fighting capabilities. Unregulated high blood sugar levels are also linked to serious gum disease and tooth decay. Dry mouth, which is medically known as xerostomia, is another prevalent symptom of diabetes. Chronic dry mouth hinders or slows down saliva production, which is essential to moistening your oral cavity and fighting off harmful bacteria inside your mouth.
Dry mouth is an ample breeding ground for the growth and spread of harmful bacteria, so it should be treated effectively regardless of whether or not it’s caused by diabetes.
Elderly people are at the highest risk of developing osteoporosis. It’s a disease that severely weakens bone structures throughout your body as you get older. This includes your teeth and jawbone. Bones can become so brittle that they can break or fracture even at the slightest, gentlest touch or movement.
Advanced osteoporosis in the mouth can lead to severe and painful jawline fractures, chipped teeth, and tooth loss, making it very difficult to chew your food. Mobility issues are also extremely prevalent in people suffering from this disease, especially female patients.
Part of the Lentivirus family, which infects humans, HIV and AIDS cause immunodeficiency in which the viruses attack the body’s immune system and white blood cells. This diminishes and in some cases, completely eradicates the body’s ability to fight off even the most common viruses and infections. People living with HIV/AIDS often exhibit the following oral health problems:
- Chronic dry mouth
- Fever blisters
- Oral warts
- Canker sores
- Dental caries
- Hairy leukoplakia (rough white patches on the tongue)
- Oral candidiasis (thrush or fungus that grows along the inner lining of the mouth)
How Can You Protect Your Oral Health?
As the saying goes, “the best defense is a strong offense”. While you can’t always prevent yourself from getting sick, there are certain tried and true steps you can take to protect your oral health. Brush your teeth twice a day. Floss every night before bed. Rinse your mouth out with non-abrasive, alcohol-free mouth wash. Most importantly, you should schedule regular dental appointments as often as is recommended for you or at a minimum every six months.
Are you long overdue for a dental cleaning or checkup due to COVID-19? At Princeview Dental Group, we take oral healthcare in Ontario seriously. Contact us to book an appointment today!