We saw in our previous blog post how stress can affect your oral health. This week, we look beyond how our mental well-being and oral health are connected. Your oral health isn’t contained just to your mouth. In fact, your whole body is affected by your oral health! Neglecting to take care of small problems that build over time or not making a habit of good oral hygiene can cause very serious health problems. Be proactive with your health and learn what health conditions are linked to oral health, as well as how you can reverse and avoid some of these effects.
Conditions Linked to Oral Health
There are many health conditions linked to oral health. Some conditions can be directly caused by poor oral health, while other existing conditions can be made worse by poor oral health and vice versa. It’s important to get the full picture of your health so that you can feel whole and live your fullest life.
Some health conditions that are known to be linked to oral health include:
• Heart disease – Oral infections that build up over time can enter your bloodstream and cause endocarditis, which is an infection that attaches to damaged areas of the heart. Other forms of cardiovascular disease can also be caused by inflammation and infection from bacteria in the mouth. It has been found that people with gum disease are two times more likely to die from a heart attack and are three times more likely to have a stroke.
• Premature babies and low birth weight – These effects on newborns can be caused by periodontitis – a serious gum infection – in the mother.
• Diabetes – While diabetes is not caused by poor oral health, oral health problems can quickly escalate to serious situations because of the weakening of the body’s ability to fight off infection. On the positive side, treating periodontal disease can reduce the need for insulin, and treating diabetes can improve oral conditions.
• HIV/AIDS – Because this disease attacks the immune system, the body has difficulty fighting off infection. Those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are additionally susceptible to mucosal lesions, which can be very painful.
• Bone and joint conditions – Osteoporosis can lead to periodontal bone loss and the loss of teeth. Rheumatoid arthritis is also known to have links to oral health.
These conditions only touch the surface of the effects of poor oral health on overall health. If you have one of these conditions and are concerned about your oral health, seek medical assistance from both your healthcare provider and dentist.
Protect Your Overall Health
So, what are some ways you can stay on top of your oral health and improve your overall health?
• Good oral care habits, including brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily
• Replacing your toothbrush as often as every three to four months (sooner if the bristles have worn out)
• Sticking to a healthy diet and limiting the number of snacks between meals
• Avoiding the use of tobacco products
Most important, keep up with regular dental check-ups and cleanings. Unsure of how often you should see a dentist? See our recommendations for how often you need to visit a dentist, depending on your age and health.
NK Family Dental is your first and best defense to fight and ward off gum disease and other oral health conditions. We provide high-quality and personal care to each patient, and our office is designed to ensure your journey to wholeness feels calm and comfortable.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment and stay on top of your health.