Did you know that your dental health tells a lot about the health of other parts of your body?
Oral health is more than just sporting spotless white teeth. It also includes the health of other nearby anatomical structures such as our gums, bones, tissues, ligaments, nerves, and glands.
Taking care of these body parts is essential for our body to function. They allow us to speak, smile, laugh, cry and convey feelings through facial expressions.
Protect yourself by learning about the ways that your oral health can affect your overall well-being.
And if you’re experiencing growing issues with your oral health, consult a dentist like Australian Dental Specialists for professional care.
Gum Disease Increases Likelihood of Health Risks
One thing we tend to overlook is how our oral health affects our well-being. The University of North Carolina School of Dentistry performed a study that showed the link between gum disease and a heart attack. The results indicated that people with gum disease witnessed a 2x to 3x increase to die from a heart attack, and 3x likeliness to have a stroke.
How does gum disease start?
Gum disease begins when you eat carbohydrate-rich and sweet foods such as soft drinks and common desserts without observing proper hygiene afterward. After some time, a sticky, bacteria layer referred to as plaque builds up around your mouth.
Your mouth’s bacteria are usually harmless — but bacteria by plaque destroy enamel and can lead to cavities and gingivitis.
In a similar vein, a different type of plaque run can also build up in the arteries.
This plaque, also known as atherosclerosis, contains fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. The build-up of this fatty plaque can lead to coronary artery disease. Also, it’s important to note that there is no direct connection between gum health and health disease.
People with healthy gums can still suffer from a heart attack, and not everyone with gum disease develops heart problems. However, there are shared risk factors that can cause the association, such as smoking and a bad diet.
Increased Risk of Inflammation
Periodontist Dr. Hatice Hasturk of the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Institute says that “Periodontal disease increases the body’s burden of inflammation.”
While acute inflammation is necessary to ward off any foreign invaders, chronic inflammation isn’t good for your well-being. Long-term inflammation can contribute to many health problems, like atherosclerosis.
As of yet, there’s no solid proof that treating gum disease prevents the onset of cardiovascular disease and complications. But the connection is strong enough for dentists and medical professionals to recommend caring for your oral well-being.
Connection Between Endocarditis and Oral Health
Endocarditis is an inflammation in your heart’s inner lining and it’s caused by bacteria. The symptoms for it aren’t always severe and can change over time, varying from person to person. The symptoms are also similar to many common illnesses, which is why this disease can sometimes go undiagnosed.
Here are some common symptoms of endocarditis:
- night sweats
- fever or chills
- heart murmur
- a full feeling in the upper left part of your abdomen
- pale skin
- muscle or joint pain
- Swollen feet
- Cough or shortness of breath
- nausea or decreased appetite
- unintentional weight loss
One of the common causes of endocarditis is poor oral hygiene.
This is due to the accumulation of bacteria in your bloodstream through eating, drinking, cuts, or other means. For healthy people, their immune system is capable of warding off any dangerous bacteria. But for people at risk with endocarditis, their immune system is not strong enough.
Infective endocarditis brings infectious bacteria to your heart from the bloodstream. There, they multiply and cause inflammation, causing and worsening the slew of symptoms listed above.
Other Diseases that Affect Oral Health
Your oral health can also worsen as your body fights against other diseases. This strengthens the connection between the linkage between your oral health and overall well-being.
Here are some diseases that influence your oral health:
- Diabetes – Gum disease appears to be more severe in people with diabetes. Research also found that people with gum disease find it harder to control normal blood sugar levels.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – Research from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease shows that bacteria in gum disease also have linkages to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
- HIV/AIDS – In HIV/AIDS, present in the mouth are painful lesions.
- Osteoporosis – This disease that weakens bones has linkages to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
How to Prevent Oral Health Risks
To prevent oral health degradation, practice good oral hygiene daily.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day
- Brush your teeth at least 2x a day
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months
- After brushing and flossing, use a mouthwash to remove food particles
- Eat healthily. Limit sugary food intake.
- Avoid smoking tobacco
- Schedule regular appointments with your dentist for cleanings
If you have any oral concerns that need immediate attention, contact your dentist ASAP. Your oral health is the gateway for the well-being of the rest of your body.