Your oral health can affect your overall health. Your mouth is a pathway for bacteria to enter your body. If your oral health is poor, it makes it that much easier for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and cause infections. Fortunately, disease and inflammation can be prevented with good daily oral care.
Conditions linked to poor oral health:
Starches and sugars in food interact with commonly found bacteria in your mouth to form plaque. If plaque isn’t properly removed from your teeth via daily brushing and flossing, the acids produced can damage tooth enamel (the surface of your teeth). This leads to tooth decay and eventually causes cavities.
Plaque can also cause gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that causes inflammation of the gum tissue around your teeth. As a result, your gums may bleed when you floss and/or brush your teeth.
If gingivitis is left untreated, you could develop a serious gum infection called periodontitis. Your gums start to pull away from your teeth, and pockets of plaque and tartar (hardened plaque that is difficult to remove) form between your gums and teeth. Periodontitis destroys the bone that supports your teeth. Your teeth may loosen or you may even lose teeth.
Periodontitis has also been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Ongoing gum inflammation can also weaken your immune system and affect your overall health.
Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is a range of conditions that may affect your heart and blood vessels. Some research suggests that oral inflammation and infections may cause blocked arteries, heart disease and stroke. Good oral hygiene may help prevent these heart conditions.
Oral bacteria can enter your bloodstream and cause inflammation of the lining of your heart’s valves and chambers. If untreated, endocarditis can be fatal. Again, good oral hygiene may help to prevent this bacterial infection.
Pneumonia is a serious lung infection that makes breathing difficult. It’s a potentially fatal disease. Certain oral bacteria can cause pneumonia if it enters your lungs, so brushing and flossing are essential to your daily routine.
How to protect your oral health
Good daily oral hygiene goes a long way to protect your overall health. Here are a few tips:
Daily oral care may feel like a chore at first. But once you get into the routine, it will just become a part of your daily habits. Good oral health is more than just about shiny teeth – it’s about looking after your overall health and wellbeing through one small change. Now that’s something to smile about.
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Cleveland Clinic. 2022. Endocarditis. Available [Online]: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16957-endocarditis.
Hersh, E. & Healthline Editorial Team. 2023. Gingivitis (Gum Disease) Overview. Healthline. J. Archibald, DDS (Ed.). Available [Online]: https://www.healthline.com/health/gingivitis.
Mayo Clinic. 2021. Oral health: A window to your overall health. Available [Online]: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475.
Mayo Clinic. 2023. Periodontitis. Available [Online]: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/periodontitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354473.
Smith Haghighi, A. 2023. What is tooth decay? MedicalNewsToday. J. Archibald, DDS (Ed.). Available [Online]: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/tooth-decay.
World Health Organization. 2021. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Available [Online]: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds).
World Health Organization. 2023 Pneumonia: Overview. Available [Online]: https://www.who.int/health-topics/pneumonia/#tab=tab_1.