How Taking Care of Your Teeth Can Impact Your Overall Health

You know that taking care of your mouth is important, so that you can maintain a healthy smile throughout your life. But did you also know that the health of your mouth has an impact on the rest of your body? Oral health is linked to overall health, so taking care of your teeth is vital. Here, we look at the ways taking care of your teeth can help keep your body healthy.

  • How are oral health and overall health connected? It’s easy to think of your mouth and body as separate entities, especially since your dentist and doctor are separate. In fact, though, your whole body is a unit, and since the mouth is the primary pathway into the body, it is important to protect it. The mouth is full of bacteria, and some of these bacteria can cause disease. It’s easy for the bacteria in your mouth to enter your digestive and respiratory tracts, as well as entering the bloodstream through small injuries in the mouth. Without the right oral care, your body is vulnerable to illnesses. What’s more, certain diseases and the medications that are used to treat them can impact your oral health.
  • What happens when you neglect your dental health? Inflammation and oral bacteria can increase your risk of certain conditions, including:
    • Endocarditis- Bacteria from your mouth or other parts of your body spread through the bloodstream, they can cause an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers.
    • Cardiovascular disease- For reasons not entirely understood, it seems that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke are linked to inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria. Periodontal disease, in particular, seems connected to stroke and clogged arteries, though which causes which has not been determined.
    • Complications with pregnancy and birth- Periodontal disease is also linked to premature birth and low birth weight, as well as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and stillbirth.
    • Pneumonia- When bacteria is pulled into your lungs, it can cause pneumonia and other respiratory ailments.
  • What diseases impact your oral health?
    • Diabetes puts your gums at risk by reducing the body’s resistance to infection, so people with diabetes are at a higher risk of gum disease. Further, when people with diabetes do get gum disease, it tends to be more severe. It is a reciprocal risk, though, because people who have gum disease have more difficulty controlling their diabetes.
    • People who have HIV/AIDS often have oral problems. These include painful mucosal lesions.
    • Osteoporosis causes a weakening of the bones. Unsurprisingly, it is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Additionally, some of the medications used to treat osteoporosis can be damaging to the bones of the jaw.
    • Alzheimer’s disease is connected to worsening oral health. This escalates as the disease progresses.
  • What’s the best way to protect your whole body by taking care of your teeth? It starts with brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride, and flossing at least once a day. Eat a nutritious diet, limiting sugar consumption, and do not smoke. Consider home dental care tools like mouthwash and a water flosser, and see your dentist twice a year. You might also want to see a periodontist once a year, and talk to your doctor about managing health conditions that could impact your oral health.

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