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How Oral Health Affects Overall Health

by Raba
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Your mouth is home to bacteria, just like other areas of your body. Most of the bacteria in your mouth are harmless, but not all of them. Think about what your mouth is responsible for; it’s how food enters your digestive tract, and air enters your respiratory tract. Some bacteria can cause diseases that you can prevent through regular brushing and flossing. Getting rid of the bacteria in your mouth can keep unhealthy or bad bacteria under control to prevent them from entering your body. However, without daily brushing and flossing, the bacteria can lead to oral infections, such as gum disease that nurses or doctors need to prescribe medicine for. 

Not only is your mouth the entrance to other parts of your body, but it’s also home to saliva. While saliva might be gross to think about, it does have an important role. Your saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids to protect your entire body from bacteria that can lead to disease. Oral bacteria and gum disease may be a small factor in life-threatening diseases.

Health Issues Associated with Poor Oral Health

A few diseases that can be linked to poor oral health include:

Cardiovascular Disease

Poor oral health increases the chances of developing heart disease. If your gums have inflammation, bacteria can work their way into your bloodstream, allowing plaque to build up and harden in the arteries. Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, can lead to decreased blood flow and heart blockages while increasing the likelihood of heart attacks. The damage to the arteries and blood vessels can result in hypertension and increase the risk for strokes. 

Ultimately, gum disease can cause inflammation that allows bad bacteria into your bloodstream and arteries, which can result in heart disease. Proper oral care can prevent gum disease to reduce your chances of developing heart disease. 

Dementia

Poor oral health can also affect the brain. Many chemicals released from inflamed gums and oral infection can harm brain cells and lead to memory loss. Gingivitis has a host of symptoms, but it’s also associated with dementia since it allows the bacteria in the mouth to spread to the nerves.

Diabetes

Diabetics are more susceptible to infections, including gum and oral infections, that can lead to gum disease. However, gum disease can also make diabetes difficult to control. Diabetics can have problems with blood sugar due to gum disease, so it’s important for those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to take proper care of their oral health to prevent any complications. In addition, gum disease can lead to higher than regular blood sugar levels, so a person with poor oral health is also at an increased risk of developing diabetes. 

Respiratory Infections 

Poor oral health can also harm the respiratory system. Bacteria in your mouth and inflammation in the gums can be inhaled into the lungs or get there by way of the bloodstream. Once the bacteria is in your lungs, it can start causing respiratory infections, including COPD, bronchitis, and pneumonia. 

Complications in Pregnancy

Expecting mothers should have good oral hygiene because poor oral hygiene can lead to pregnancy complications. Because of the changing hormones in a pregnant woman’s body, they’re more susceptible to oral infection. Additionally, any infection can increase the chances of pregnancy complications. Oral health problems, including gum disease and gingivitis, can lead to premature birth, putting both the mother and baby at risk. 

Erectile Dysfunction

Poor oral health can increase a man’s chances of having erectile dysfunction (ED). In addition, periodontal disease has been proven to be related to ED due to an infection that occurs when teeth and gums pull away from each other to create pockets that allow bacteria to enter the bone surrounding the teeth. This bacteria can flow into the bloodstream and cause inflamed blood vessels resulting in ED. 

Cancer

You may already know that poor oral health habits can lead to oral cancer. For example, if you smoke or use tobacco products, you’re at an increased risk of oral and throat cancer. However, other types of cancer have been linked to gum disease, including kidney cancer and blood cancer. 

Kidney Disease

Not only can poor oral health lead to kidney cancer, but it can cause kidney disease, a serious illness that impacts the kidneys, heart, blood, and bones. Infections from periodontal disease can lead to kidney disease by allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream and make their way to the kidneys. Those with gum disease also typically have weaker immune systems, making them more likely to get infections. As a result, those with poor oral health are at an increased risk of kidney disease, which can be fatal. 

Caring for Your Dental Health

Protecting yourself from health problems caused by poor oral hygiene is easy. The best thing you can do for yourself is brush and floss your teeth at least twice every day. If you choose, you can also brush after every meal to remove food that can cause bacteria and plaque build-up. You should also eat a healthy diet and limit sugary drinks and food, including soda and candy. And finally, always see your dentist for your annual checkup and cleaning. Your dentist can help find the signs of gingivitis and gum disease earlier to prevent them from causing major complications in your overall health. Additionally, your dentist will make recommendations for dental implants if needed to protect your oral health.

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