Can Poor Oral Health Damage Your Overall Health?
For many of us, proper oral health care is boring. Brushing and flossing aren’t the most engaging activities and some people can find it difficult to be motivated to practice good oral hygiene. If you’re one of these people, read on to learn why you should be taking these activities more seriously.
What Is the Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health?
Your mouth harbors bacteria. And while most of it won’t cause you any harm, it can if it reaches a certain level. When that occurs, you develop gum disease.
While gum disease has long been thought by most people to be no big deal, there’s plenty of research to suggest that it has a significant impact on your overall health.
Are Certain Diseases Linked to Poor Oral Health?
Unfortunately, there are a number of diseases that have been linked to poor oral health. These include:
- Cardiovascular Disease. Bacteria from inflammation and periodontal disease (an advanced form of gum disease) can travel through your bloodstream, affecting arteries in the heart. When this occurs, the arteries harden—this condition is called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can lead to reduced blood flow, ultimately increasing your risk of a stroke or heart attack.
- Endocarditis. Bacteria from the mouth can also cause the inner lining of the heart to become infected or inflamed, a condition called endocarditis.
- Dementia. Bacteria may also enter the brain through the nerve channels in your head or the bloodstream, possibly leading to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Respiratory Infections. According to the Journal of Periodontology, gum disease may cause infection in the lungs, including pneumonia—the result of breathing in bacteria from infected gums over time.
- Diabetic Complications. Gum disease makes it harder to control blood sugar, worsening diabetic symptoms. Additionally, diabetics are more susceptible to periodontal disease, making it even more important that they take great care of their oral hygiene.
Finally, there are other conditions that researchers believe may be linked to gum disease including: premature birth, rheumatoid arthritis, and certain cancers.
How Can I Take Good Care of My Oral Health?
There are a number of things you can do to improve your overall oral health:
- Brush at least twice a day for 2 minutes at a time
- Floss your teeth daily
- Replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months; even after rinsing, your toothbrush can grow bacteria, and bent bristles prevent your brush from being as effective as it can be
- Keep your mouth well-hydrated; drink water frequently throughout the day and try chewing sugar-free gum which will increase saliva flow. Saliva provides important protection against disease-causing bacteria.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a routine checkup
For some patients, the number of times you need to see your dentist each year might be even higher, depending on the health of your mouth. If you notice any negative changes in your mouth—bleeding gums, pain, or lesions, for example—seeing your dentist is even more important.
Speaking of your dentist, are we due for some quality time together? If so, it’s easy to schedule your visit. Simply call our office at 614.328.9489 or schedule an appointment online.
We are located at 6304 Scioto Darby Road in Hilliard and offer early morning and evening hours for your convenience.