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Do you know just how important your oral health is? From an early age we are taught to take care of our teeth and follow a strict oral hygiene routine. But there’s a good reason for this. Your oral health can impact your overall, general health, more than you may realize. Problems that are happening inside your mouth can result in problems with your general health.
What’s The Connection?
Your mouth already contains plenty of harmless bacteria, but some bacteria can easily cause disease. Consider the fact that your mouth is the entry point when it comes to your respiratory and digestive tracts, there is a reason we should think about what we put into our mouths.
Sure, you can keep the bacteria under control with regular (and daily) brushing and flossing, but sometimes we can still end up with harmful bacteria causing oral infections. You are less likely to endure such a situation if you take proper care of your oral health. Dealing with tooth decay and/or gum disease is not a fun situation to be in. So, it makes sense that one would prefer to follow a simple but effective oral hygiene routine to avoid these potential diseases.
Unfortunately, it’s not just what you eat and drink that you must be aware of in terms of impacting your oral health. Certain medications can cause issues as well. Such as antihistamines and painkillers, among others. These can lessen saliva flow. You need good saliva flow to eliminate food particles and neutralize the acids that bacteria can produce. Your oral health can also be at risk when you have certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, or diabetes. These diseases can lessen your immune system and negatively affect your oral health. For more information about the mouth to body connection, visit here.
What Diseases Could Be Linked to Oral Health?
Not having the best oral health could put you at risk for various health conditions and diseases, including but not limited to:
Pneumonia – Pneumonia can produce if certain bacteria in your mouth are pulled into your lungs, as well as other respiratory problems/diseases.
Cardiovascular Disease – There is some research that suggests stroke, clogged arteries and heart disease may be linked to infections and inflammations in our mouths caused by bacteria.
Pregnancy and/or Birth Complications – There has been as established link between low birth weight and premature birth with periodontitis.
Endocarditis – Bacteria or other germs either from your mouth or elsewhere can spread through your bloodstream, attaching to certain areas in the heart, causing endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart valves or chambers.
Certain Health Conditions That May Affect Oral Health
There are also some conditions that could affect your oral health, including:
Osteoporosis – Periodontal bone loss and tooth loss are linked to this bone-weakening disease. There are actually some Osteoporosis treatment drugs that come with a small risk of jawbone damage.
Diabetes – Diabetes lowers the body’s resistance to infection with can also put your oral health, specifically your gums, at risk. Many people that have diabetes also have gum disease. Research has shown that those with gum disease have a harder time when it comes to blood sugar level control. You can still improve the control of diabetes with regular oral care.
Alzheimer’s Disease – Those with Alzheimer’s disease seem to experience worse oral health as the disease progresses.
HIV/AIDS – Those who have HIV/AIDS seem to also have oral problems, like mucosal lesions that are painful.
These are only a handful of the potential disease and conditions that may be linked to oral health. Others include certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome (causes dry mouth), and eating disorders. If you currently take medications, be sure to tell your dentist, along with any changes you’ve experience in your overall health. Especially if you have diabetes or another chronic health condition.
Protecting Your Oral Health
You can continue to protect your oral health, even if you have experienced issues in the past or present. Practice good oral hygiene that includes:
- Always brush a minimum of twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste containing fluoride.
- Floss every day.
- After you brush and floss use a mouthwash.
- Avoid high-sugar foods and drinks and opt for healthy options.
- Every 3-4 months you should replace your toothbrush, or sooner if the bristles become worn.
- Have regular dental cleanings and checkups to get ahead of any potential problems.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco products.
Should you experience an issue, suspect one or have a dental emergency, contact your dentist right away. Taking action right away can help you avoid more serious problems.