How Our Oral Hygiene Affects the Whole BodyCreated by:
What does your overall health have to do with your mouth? Well, plenty as much can be revealed about your health just by a look inside or analyzing a swab of saliva. Today, we live in a world of express satisfactions – fast foods, sugar loaded drinks and snacks, everything for a quick energy boost while on the run. However, these poor nutrition choices may contribute to different diseases and infections.
In 2013, Public Health England conducted a survey which showed that 27% of 5-year-olds experience tooth decay. Besides the mouth cavity, bad food choices can greatly affect the immune system, as various research linked bad mouth hygiene to systemic diseases – rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes.
Problems from the mouth can spread through the body quite easily, as the mouth is the doorway to your body. These are some of the ways your overall health can be affected by your oral hygiene.
Heart disease and gum disease often go hand in hand, though it’s still not completely understood why. About 90% of those with heart disease suffer from periodontitis, with excess weight, unhealthy diet, and smoking being the risk factors in common. It is considered that inflammation in the blood vessels is caused by the inflammation in the mouth, which is why less blood is allowed to travel throughout the body, raising blood pressure. On the other hand, there is also the risk of fatty plaque to break through the wall of a blood vessel, eventually causing a stroke or a heart attack once it reaches the brain or the heart. Endocarditis, a condition that involves the inflammation of the heart valve lining, is usually caused by bacteria that travels from the mouth to the heart, through the bloodstream.
Diabetes can cause gum disease because the disease can cause restricted blood flow by altering blood vessels. This weakens the gums, making them more prone to infections. Blood sugar levels are also increased due to diabetes, and can lead to a rise in glucose levels (if left untreated), and foster the growth of oral bacteria. The body’s ability to control blood sugar levels is weakened because of the inflammation that starts in the mouth, so it can’t utilize insulin the right way. Of all the connections between the body and mouth, the relationship between periodontitis and diabetes may be the strongest. If you’re advised to wear braces, you should pay more attention to oral hygiene, as braces attract food and plaque. Uneven surfaces create a perfect place for bacterial development, so if you have poor teeth, you should consider doing dental veneers.
Bone loss is the important thing that periodontitis and osteoporosis have in common, but the link between them is controversial. Gum disease attacks the jawbone, while osteoporosis affects the long bones in the legs and arms. Even though the link is still somewhat unclear, it was found that women who suffer from osteoporosis are affected by gum disease more often than those who don’t. The theory that periodontitis-triggered inflammation could weaken the bones in other parts of the body is still being tested.
Failing to give your orthodontist the complete history of medications you are taking is a mistake. People don’t take it seriously, as they believe that it’s unrelated to orthodontics, but many medications can slow the bones’ ability to heal. If you’ve ever taken medications for diseases such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, or osteoporosis, be sure to mention it to your orthodontist.
The mouth can affect your body, as well as the other way around. That’s why you should take good care of your gums and teeth – floss once a day, brush twice a day, and have regular dental check-ups and cleanings. In case you’re experiencing oral health problems, visit your dentist as soon as possible, and don’t give the condition a chance to affect your overall health.