What your Oral Health has on your overall Health
It's obvious that you should brush your teeth every day. But it isn't just about keeping your smile white and preventing decay. Your overall well-being and health depend on your oral hygiene.
Dental health can be linked to overall health. If your gums and teeth aren't healthy, it could cause other problems like stroke or heart disease. Sasha Ross DMD, MS is a periodontist who explains how good oral hygiene can help you maintain your overall health.
What is the importance of oral health?
It's possible to think of your mouth separately from the rest.
Dr. Ross suggests that you view your mouth as an extension to your whole body. Looking into a person’s mouth can often give me a good idea about their overall health.
Poor oral health could include:
Gingivitis refers to the infection of bacteria on your gums. This is a mild form of early gum disease.
Periodontal Disease is an infection of the gums that can lead to inflammation and bone loss.
Tooth decay can also occur from untreated cavities.
What Happens if Your Oral Health is Poor?
Bad oral hygiene can cause more than just bad breath and yellowing of the smile. It also has the potential to lead to many health issues. Dr. Ross discusses some of the most important.
Cardiovascular diseases are a collection of conditions that affect your heart and blood vessels. Poor oral health can lead to cardiovascular diseases such as:
Coronary artery disease is the most prevalent type of heart disease. It can cause heart attacks, heart failure, and other serious complications. This is the most common cause of death in America.
Clogged arteries: Studies show that people with periodontal disease have significantly higher rates of atherosclerosis, when plaque builds up inside the blood vessels that deliver blood and oxygen from your heart to your body.
Stroke: Studies show a strong association between periodontal disease and strokes, specifically strokes related to atherosclerosis.
One caveat: Dr. Ross states that while cardiovascular disease is often linked to periodontal disease, evidence has not shown that the two are related.
You are more likely to develop endocarditis if you have heart disease, or any other health issue that could affect your heart.
Dr. Ross says that the bacterial infection known as endocrinitis, which can occur during dental procedures such as tooth extractions, is what causes it. It doesn't usually affect healthy hearts but can cause serious complications if there are existing issues with your heart.
Birth complications and pregnancy
You have an extra reason to look after your body when you are pregnant. Poor oral health in pregnant women is linked to:
Restrictions on fetal growth Gestational diabetes. A low birth weight. Miscarriage. Stillbirth. Preeclampsia. Dr. Ross advises that oral bacteria may travel into the bloodstream to cause damage to the foetus.
A link has been made between having cavities and developing pneumonia. This is a form of lung infection that can be caused by bacteria viruses, fungi, or viruses.
Dr. Ross explained that the theory is that bacteria can enter the lungs from the mouth. This could lead to pneumonia. This makes it much easier for bacteria that can cause respiratory infection to stick to the lungs.
A healthy mouth will help you eat healthy food. Dr. Ross says that eating is essential to our survival. He points out that healthy gums and teeth are crucial for good oral health.
If untreated, cavities can cause poor nutrition as well stunted growth in children. These can lead to problems such as:
- Cellulitis (a bacterial infection)
- Gum disease.
How does your oral health affect you?
A few things can influence the link between oral and systemic health. Dr. Ross provides some examples.
Common Risk Factors
There are many risk factors that systemic and periodontal diseases share, such as:
- Poor diet is a poor one, particularly if it's high in sugar.
- Tobacco use.
- Excessive alcohol use.
- High levels of stress.
Periodontal disease and cavities can all be caused by these factors. It is possible that you may also have systemic disorders.
It's Mom or Dad at fault: Dr. Ross says that certain people are more likely to develop systemic and periodontal diseases.
Your body's response against bacteria
While this is not a genetic trait, it's related to your body's unique bodily reactions.
Ross states, "Everybody's bodies respond to bacteria in a different way." For instance, bacteria can cause inflammation or other health problems in certain people.
People with both periodontal and systemic diseases often have elevated levels of C-reactive proteins, an inflammatory compound.
Poor oral health can lead to other conditions. The reverse can also be true: Oral health issues can occur from certain diseases or disorders.
Diabetes is one of them. Dr. Ross states that people with diabetes poorly managed are at greater risk for developing periodontal diseases and having the disease progress to more serious levels.
Osteoporosis is also associated with periodontal disease, as studies suggest that the low bone mineral density associated with the condition can affect your jaw. Alveolar bone loss is the type of bone that occurs with periodontal diseases. This refers to your portion of the jawbone which has sockets.
You may also be affected by other conditions, such as:
- Alzheimer's disease.
- Prostate Cancer.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
"There are many studies coming out right now that show connections between these conditions and periodontal disease," Dr. Ross says. There is more data that will show the link between these conditions and periodontal disease, so we expect it to continue.
What is good oral hygiene?
You may feel panicky because you have not flossed yet this week or today. Take a deep breathe and relax. It's possible to start improving your oral hygiene now and keeping your mouth healthy and happy.
This is what Dr. Ross suggests.
Two times a day, brush your teeth.
Brush for 2 minutes with fluoridated toothpaste. Dr. Ross advises an electric toothbrush.
Once a day, floss. You can use real floss instead of the tiny floss picks for those difficult-to clean crevices. If you aren't sure if your floss is properly maintained, you can ask your dentist for help.
Other home remedies for good oral hygiene are available. You can keep your gums and teeth healthy with mouthwash or Waterpik(r).
Your dentist should be seen twice annually. You can keep your smile healthy and beautiful with routine exams, Xrays, and cleanings. Dr. Ross states that regular dental visits can help reduce the risk of stroke and other medical conditions. Set up an appointment for a periodontist. You should make an appointment to see a periodontist, if this is your first time. Dr. Ross suggests that you make an appointment annually with a periodontist to ensure healthy gums, jaws, and teeth.
Your other health problems can be managed. It is crucial to maintain a healthy mouth and manage conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis.
A healthy lifestyle is essential. It's important to take care of your health. Keep your body healthy by getting regular exercise, eating nutritious food, and avoiding smoking and excess drinking. Dr. Ross says that treating your oral health will have a significant impact on your overall well-being.
Is it okay to be afraid of the dentist?
The truth is, dentists, periodontists, and orthodontists are aware that patients may fear visiting them. They are skilled at working with anxious patients in order to make your visit less stressful.
Dr. Ross says that there are many ways we can help patients not to be afraid. "We really hope that you will stop letting your nerves get in the way of regular dental care."