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Your Oral Health and Your Overall Health

 Did you know there is actually a distinct connection between your oral health and your overall health? Meaning, signs of something being off somewhere else in your body can be present in your mouth. Also, something going wrong in your mouth can cause other things to go wrong throughout your body [1]. Because of this, it is very important for us to be educated on how we can take care of our oral health in order to improve our overall health!

Brushing Up on Dental Care

We all know that it is very important to brush our teeth twice a day and floss just as many times a day. But do you know exactly why? According to the American Dental Association, “tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth and along the gum line.” To decrease or remove the plaque, actions like daily brushing and flossing and going to get your teeth cleaned professionally are all necessary to get the job done [2].

The Mayo Clinic also emphasizes the relation between some medications and oral health. For example, medications such as painkillers and antidepressants can actually decrease the amount of saliva that is produced in your mouth. Not only does that alter the freshness of your breath as well as your own comfort, but saliva deficiency can also expose your body to unwanted illness and overgrowth of bacteria. This is because our saliva’s most important job, other than helping us chew and swallow food, is to “help to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease” [1].

 

What are these diseases that are affected by your oral health, you ask? Well, the Mayo Clinic highlights some common illnesses that correlate to oral health on both sides of the spectrum.

 

Watch Your Mouth—Your Heart Depends on It

Some ways that your oral health has a not-so-”helpful” hand in a multitude of diseases include:

1. Endocarditis.

  • MedlinePlus defines endocarditis as “an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart.”
  • This disease typically develops when bacteria and germs from a certain part of your body (ie: your mouth) gets into your bloodstream and attaches itself to portions of your heart that are damaged [1].
  • In this case, it is very important to clean your teeth frequently to make sure the “bad” germs and bacteria do not spread and end up causing bigger problem.

Brushing your teeth can lead to a healthier heart

 2. Cardiovascular Disease.

  • Ailments that affect the heart, such as general heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke are all things that recent studies have linked to infections that can be rooted from oral bacteria.

3. Pregnancy and birth.

  • A severe form of gum disease, called Periodontitis, has been found in previous studies and observations to be an underlying factor in premature births and a low birth weight. [1]
  • It is not only extremely important to take care of your oral and overall health at all times of the year throughout your life, but especially during pregnancy as well as post-pregnancy. This is important for your health and your offspring’s health.

 

Be Cautious If You Also Have…

There are also certain diseases that could alter your oral health! For example:

1. Diabetes.

  • Gum diseases seem to be more prevalent in those who have diabetes. This is because diabetes “reduces the body’s resistance to infection” which is an immediate risk to our gums [1].
  • “Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels, and that regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control.” [1]

 2. HIV/AIDS.

  • People with HIV/AIDS tend to have “mucosal lesions’ which are painful oral sores.

 3.  Osteoporosis.

  • This disease causes our body’s bones to be very weak and has also been linked to tooth loss. The medication used to treat osteoporosis may cause minor damage in the jaw bones. [1]

4.  Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • As the disease gets worse, the individual’s oral health can begin to deplete as well.

Other notable diseases that can affect someone’s oral health includes “eating disorders (ie: bulimia), rheumatoid arthritis, head and neck cancers, and Sjorgen’s Disease- which is an immune system disorder that can cause someone to have dry mouth.” [1]

 

Quick Tips for a Healthy Smile:

So, what exactly can you do to protect your oral (and overall) health? The Mayo Clinic has some great suggestions:

  • Floss on a daily basis.
  • Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day with quality, fluoride toothpaste.
  • Eat clean and healthy, making sure to limit that all-day snacking.
  • Replace your toothbrush in a reasonable amount of time, such as every three to four months (or before the bristles get frayed).
  • Make it a point to visit your dentist at least twice a year for check ups and teeth cleanings.
  • Avoid any tobacco use as much as possible.

Is it time to replace your toothbrush?

Taking care of your oral health is not only important for your teeth and gums, but it is also a vital part of your overall health care routine. A healthy mouth is a major key for a healthy body.

 

Works Cited:

[1] Oral health: A window to your overall health. (2016, April 30). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475

[2] Federal Government, ADA Emphasize Importance of Flossing and Interdental Cleaners. (n.d.). Retrieved from

https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2016-archive/august/statement-from-the-american-dental-association-about-interdental-cleaners

[3] Endocarditis | Infective Endocarditis | IE. (2018, August 08). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/endocarditis.htm

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