Wondering how dental health affects overall health? Some healthcare professionals even refer to the mouth as a window to the rest of the body. The first signs of AIDS or diabetes are often mouth lesions or other signs of poor oral health.
Ninety percent of all systemic disease present with oral signs and symptoms at some point of the disease onset and progression. The consequences of poor oral health expand past what some people think: cavities, gum disease and bad breath.
How Dental Health Affects Overall Health
Even with saliva, the built in first line of defense against bacteria and viruses, you need to do your part to protect yourself. A combination of a comprehensive, consistent homecare routine and regular dental visits are vital.
Once bacteria enter the bloodstream (bacteremia) the risk of infection in another part of your body increases greatly and dangerously. If your immune system is in any way compromised or weakened because of chronic disease, cancer treatment or common illness your physical health can be affected by the lack of oral health.
What Medical Disorders Can be Linked to Poor Dental Health?
The synergic relationship between overall health and oral health has been researched and proven by Mayo Clinic, Harvard and the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health. The results prove that your mouth “talks” to your body and your body “talks” to your body.
- Cardiovascular Disease- Endocarditis is an often-fatal condition that happens when bacteria in your mouth crosses into the bloodstream and the heart lining gets infected.
That same bacteria that causes gum disease can build up plaque in your arteries if a port from your mouth to your bloodstream occurs. This very serious condition is called atherosclerosis. The blockages the plaque creates in the heart makes you more susceptible to having a heart attack.
Hypertension or high blood pressure brought on by damage done to the blood vessels and arteries when the bacteria create plaque increases your risk of stroke.
- Dementia- and possible Alzheimer’s disease are now connected to the destruction caused by the toxins released by infected and swollen gums. These toxins affect the brain causing memory loss when the bacteria spreads through the bloodstream to nerve channels.
- Lung Infections- Pneumonia, acute bronchitis and COPD can result when the bacteria from an infected tooth or inflamed gums is breathed into the lungs. Respiratory infections can also occur when bacteria travels through the blood to the lungs.
- Diabetes- Gum disease may lead to higher blood sugar levels which increase the risk of developing diabetes. If you already are diabetic, you are more susceptible to gum disease. Once you have gum disease, diabetes is more difficult to control. The chaos created with the sugar levels increase your risk of complications related to diabetes.
- Pregnancy Problems- If you have gum disease during pregnancy, your chance of delivering a baby healthy and normal size is only 1 in 7. Gingivitis and periodontists are both proven to lead to premature birth and low birth weight.
Any infection during pregnancy, including gum disease, puts the mother and the baby at risk for serious health problems.
If you are trying to conceive, poor oral health is linked to infertility in women. Having a thorough dental examination and cleaning prior to conception increases your chance of getting pregnant, sustaining a healthy pregnancy and delivering a healthy baby.
- Erectile Dysfunction- Chronic periodontal disease puts a man at increased risk of developing ED or erectile dysfunction. Bacteria from gum disease gets into the bloodstream. The blood vessels react by becoming inflamed which blocks the blood flow necessary to the genitals for an erection.
- Cancer- Most people know that tobacco and smoking can cause throat and oral cancer lesions. Did you know blood cancers, kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer have also been linked to gum disease?
- Arthritis- Rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease both have inflammation in common. You are 4X more at risk to develop rheumatoid arthritis if you have a bacterial infection, gingivitis. Considering how painful and debilitating RA is, this connection cannot be ignored.
How Can You Prevent Health Issues Caused by Poor Oral Health?
Maintaining good oral health is the best defense against the risk of infection in both the mouth and the rest of your body. This includes:
- Brushing at least 2X a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing at least once per day
- Optimum nutrition with a well-balanced diet limited in sugar
- Avoid all tobacco products including vaping and e-cigarettes
- Keep the recommended recare schedule your dentist has set for you
According to the information above, you now know how dental health affects overall health. Keeping your gums and teeth healthy will decrease your risk for more dangerous problems in your overall health. For more information about the connection of oral and whole-body health, professionals at My Time Dental Centers have the answers for you.