Many people think that good oral health is only essential for preventing tooth decay and enjoying a beautiful smile. Unfortunately, this is not correct. The fact is that our oral health status can directly influence our overall physical health and well-being. So, if there is an underlying problem inside the mouth, it can also affect the rest of the body – the so-called oral-systemic connection. So, protect yourself from oral and physical problems by learning more about the connection between your dental health and physical wellbeing.
The Oral-Systemic Link
The mouth is a gateway to our entire body. Anything we eat or drink first passes through the oral cavity and then to other body parts. Hence, if there is any underlying disease or inflammation inside the mouth, it can be transmitted to other body parts as well.
Under healthy situations, our body’s natural defense response and good oral hygiene maintenance through brushing and flossing, prevent disease formation and progression in the oral cavity. However, when one starts to ignore their regular oral hygiene, plaque and tartar deposits start to deposit on the teeth. Over time, plaque hardens to become tartar, or calculus. Both plaque and tartar provide an ideal breeding environment for the harmful bacteria. These disease-causing bacteria utilize the sugars and carbohydrates from the plaque and release toxins that destroy our gums and degrade the underlying bone, resulting in gum disease.
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, does not only affect the oral cavity, but it can also create systemic complications. The bacteria inside plaque and tartar deposits enter can the bloodstream from the oral cavity and travel to other body organs and cause serious, even life-threatening diseases. Besides, bacteria can also travel through the food we eat or the air we breath, to other body parts.
What Systemic Conditions are Linked to Oral Health?
According to the Amerircan Dental Association, your oral health status might contribute to various diseases, such as:
Heart Disease – although the exact mechanism is not clear, but studies show that oral disease-causing bacteria cause inflammation in the arteries, which causes the narrowing, and subsequent clogging due to fat deposition, and ultimately resulting in heart disease.
Endocarditis – this a condition where harmful bacteria from the oral cavity spread through the bloodstream, enter the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves, and result in their inflammation.
Pregnancy-related Disorders – periodontal inflammation has also been linked with premature or low birth weight.
Pneumonia – certain bacteria in the oral cavity can be pulled into the lungs while breathing, causing pneumonia and other serious respiratory illnesses.
Diabetes – research has established a two-way link between oral health and diabetes. Research has shown that people with gum disease have more difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels than those who don’t. Similarly, high blood glucose levels increase the risk of periodontal disease. According to the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health, 95% of Americans having diabetes also suffer from periodontal disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease – research has shown that poor oral health increases the risk and severity of Alzheimer’s disease.
How To Ensure Optimal Oral and Physical Health?
The best way to keep fit and enjoy an active lifestyle is to practice good oral hygiene.
Oral Hygiene Maintenance – most oral health problems start when oral hygiene maintenance is ignored. If you simply brush your teeth twice a day with ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day, you won’t have to worry about dental problems anymore. Besides, you should also replace your toothbrush every few months to ensure that it can effectively clean your teeth and remove plaque deposits.
Tooth-Friendly Diet – eat lots of vegetables and fruits and fiber-containing foods. These foods provide a cleansing action and prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Also, limiting carbohydrate-rich foods and fizzy drinks will go a long way in protecting you from dental problems.
Visit your Dentist Regularly – at Northstar Dental Care, we recommend our esteemed patients visit us at least twice a year for checkups. This is because regular checkup visits allow us to thoroughly check your oral hygiene status and diagnose dental problems in their early stages – before they cause permanent damage or affect your physical health.
Poor oral health not only affects one’s smile but can also cause various medical conditions. But the good news is that all these problems are preventable. Simply ensure optimal oral hygiene and visit us regularly at Northstar Dental Care, and you won’t have to worry about your oral health and physical wellbeing anymore!