There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the link between your oral health and your overall health. This means that a healthy smile is a sign of a healthy body, while teeth and gums that are diseased and decayed are symptoms of a body that is out-of-balance and at risk of any number of serious health conditions. Here’s what you need to know.
The Connection Between Oral Hygiene and Overall Health
Your mouth is an entry point to the rest of your body, so it only makes sense that the health of your teeth and gums has a big impact on your overall well-being. Bacteria in the mouth can lead to digestive and respiratory illnesses, but one of the most significant ways your oral health affects the rest of your body is gum disease.
Poor oral hygiene habits mean bacteria can proliferate in your mouth, which often leads to gum disease. While the name implies that only your gums are affected, this couldn’t be further from the truth—gum disease has serious consequences for your teeth, jawbone, and the rest of your body. As your teeth begin to fail, it becomes harder to eat the nutritious diet you need to nourish your body, leading to a decline in health. Furthermore, the inflammation and infection in your gums can cause systemic inflammation and infection elsewhere in the body.
Health Conditions Linked to Poor Oral Hygiene
Here are some of the health conditions that researchers have linked to gum disease and poor oral health:
When bacteria from the mouth migrate through the bloodstream, an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) may occur.
Although the link is not entirely understood, some evidence suggests that oral bacteria might induce systemic inflammation and infections, which can lead to heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke.
Gum disease in expectant mothers has been linked to both preterm birth and low birth weight.
Pneumonia and Other Respiratory Infections
Certain bacteria in the mouth can be breathed into your lungs as you inhale, potentially causing pneumonia and other respiratory infections.
The bacteria associated with gum disease can enter your brain through either nerve channels or the bloodstream. Some researchers suspect this may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Gum disease can raise your blood sugar, exacerbating diabetes. In addition, patients with diabetes are prone to gum disease, creating a vicious cycle.
There is a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis in patients who have lost teeth due to gum disease.
Tips for Good Oral Hygiene and Overall Health
Practicing good oral hygiene habits is one of the best tools you have to protect your health—and it’s never too late to get started! Here’s how to keep your teeth and gums healthy:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss at least once a day, reaching all the way down to the gumline.
- Visit our office every six months for a dental exam and cleaning.
- Take a proactive approach if you see any signs of gum disease.
Learn More About Good Oral Hygiene
If you’d like to learn more about good oral hygiene habits, contact us today at 09 631 5416 to schedule an appointment for a consultation with one of the dentists at Caring 4 Smiles.