In our previous blog post about the importance of routine dental checkups, we mentioned that your oral health is linked to your overall health. In this post, we wanted to explain this concept more in depth.
There are several ways in which your oral health can directly impact the health of other areas of your body. Here are just a few:
Endocarditis: Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. This type of infection typically occurs when bacteria from other parts of your body, such as your mouth, spread through the bloodstream and attaches to damaged areas of your heart.
- Cardiovascular disease: Research suggests that cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, clogged arteries, and strokes may be linked to inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria in some patients.
Premature birth and low birth weight: Studies show that both of these conditions may in some capacity be linked to periodontitis.
- Respiratory problems: Bacteria present in the mouth due to periodontal disease can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, where it can aggravate any existing respiratory problems that the patient may have.
- Increased risk of dementia: A study published in Behavioral and Brain Functions found that infections in the gums release inflammatory substances which in turn increase brain inflammation that can cause brain cell death.
It works the other way too, where health problems in other areas of your body can impact your oral health, including in the following three areas:
- Diabetes: Gum disease is often more prevalent and severe amongst those who have diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, which puts the gums at risk.
- HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS, like diabetes, reduces the body’s resistance to infection, which can put the gums at risk. Painful oral problems like mucosal lesions are also more common in those with HIV/AIDS.
- Osteoporosis: This condition causes bones to become weak and brittle, which can cause not only bone loss, but tooth loss as well.
Taking steps to prevent dental problems and protect your overall health
As you can see, taking care of your mouth is a very important part of keeping other areas of your body healthy and preventing disease.
Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to prevent oral health problems from taking hold and affecting the rest of your body.
Brush your teeth every day, at least twice per day, and floss every day. Avoid tobacco, excessive amounts of sugar, and other things that can cause tooth decay.
Go for routine checkups at the dentist. We recommend visiting the dentist every 6 months or so. This will help to prevent problems before they have a chance to take hold in your mouth and the rest of your body.
Keeping your mouth healthy is a great first step towards preserving your overall health, so make sure you do it right!