How Oral Health Impacts Your Overall Health
Aug 20, 2019
Generally speaking, everyone knows it’s important to have a healthy mouth. Nobody wants cavities or gingivitis, much less a toothache or to lose a tooth. However, what most people may not realize is that your oral health affects a lot more than just your mouth. The health of your teeth and gums have a direct impact on the well being of the rest of your body.
Poor oral health has been linked to a number of different illnesses and issues. Here are just a few that might surprise you…
Bacterial Infection & Induced Inflammation
- These are the most commonly associated links between oral and overall health. Gum disease, in particular, has been linked to many different chronic systemic illnesses.
- If infection is present in your mouth, your risk of heart attack, stroke and hypertension go up significantly. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, and gum disease increases your risk of a first heart attack by 28%.
- It may seem strange that the health of your teeth could affect how well your brain operates as you age, but it’s true. In a recent study, the same bacteria that is found in patients with periodontal disease was found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Type II Diabetes
- Diabetes can be a difficult condition to live with as it is, but having poor oral health can further complicate it. Poor blood sugar control can actually make people more susceptible to gum disease. The added inflammation associated with gum disease can make it extremely difficult for diabetics to heal and even makes it harder for them to control their blood sugar.
- Pregnancy is hard enough, but did you know that pregnant women are also more at risk for gum disease? It’s not good for the baby either, with studies linking it to low birth weight.
That’s a lot to consider, and it doesn’t even begin to cover all of the different issues that have been studied. Poor oral health has also been found to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis, obstructive sleep apnea and even several different kinds of cancer.
So, now that you know just how important it is to keep a healthy mouth, what should you do? The answers may be obvious, but you would be surprised by just how many people ignore basic oral health care until it is too late. Here are some things you can do to keep your teeth, gums and whole body as healthy as possible:
- You’ve probably heard it your whole life “brush twice a day.” But, have you ever stopped to consider what you’re brushing with? Not all toothbrushes are created equal, and there is a huge difference between the drug store $2 toothbrushes and the type we recommend. We prefer electric toothbrushes like Sonicare® to manual ones, which have been proven in studies to be more effective.
- Just like brushing, you’ve likely heard about the importance of flossing. You might be aware, though, that you have more options for flossing than just the traditional minty twine. Water flossers like the Waterpik® have been shown to be 51% more effective than string floss.
Visit The Dentist
- As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Visit the dentist regularly so that you can catch issues early, before they develop into something more serious. It is always easier to adjust your habits on the front end than to have to walk into the office already needing some work to restore your oral health. Either way, we’re here to help!
Evaluate Your Past Dental Work
- This one won’t be for everybody, but in the past it was common to do fillings and other corrective work with metal amalgams that contained mercury. Needless to say, this can cause some issues over time as you suffer prolonged exposure to a toxic substance. If you have metal fillings, they could be the source of present or future issues, and you have the option to replace them with something safer and more modern.
Hopefully, you now understand just how important your oral health is to your whole body. Our team at Nashville Restorative Dentistry certainly does, which is why we take a holistic approach to the way we treat patients. We look to solve problems at their source, rather than just treating symptoms.
If your oral health isn’t where you want it to be, or you need help addressing an issue that is affecting your quality of life, we’d love to talk to you and see how we can help.
Have a question about your oral health? We’d love to discuss your options for getting back the healthy smile you want. You can Ask the Doctors anytime!