When you hear “oral health,” you probably think of the basics: your gums, your jawbone, your tongue, and of course, your teeth. You may be surprised to learn that the health of your mouth is intricately connected to other parts of your body.
Understanding the connection between your body and your oral health can be a valuable way to identify small problems before they become major issues. Once you understand the relationship between the two, you can even take steps to prevent a number of conditions and diseases by maintaining good oral health and hygiene. Keep reading to discover a few unique ways that your oral health can be connected to your overall health.
Endocarditis is an infection in the inner lining of your heart chambers and valves. You may feel out of breath, have pain when breathing, swollen feet, or a number of additional symptoms. There are many different ways to develop endocarditis, which occurs when bacteria or fungi enter into your bloodstream and attach to your heart.
One primary point of entry is through your mouth, particularly since your mouth is home to millions of bacteria at any given moment. The goal of regular brushing and flossing is to eliminate the bad bacteria, which can ultimately decrease your chances of developing endocarditis.
Bacteria and viruses can travel through your nose or your sinuses, but they can also travel through your mouth. Without regular brushing and flossing, the bacteria inside your mouth can continue to grow—and while that typically means you will develop a cavity or gum disease, this could make it easier to catch other diseases. Bacteria may travel through your airway and into your lungs, causing respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia.
3. Complications in pregnancy and birth
Studies show that oral diseases are linked to pregnancy and birth complications, including dental caries, gingivitis, and periodontitis (gum disease). Researchers still aren’t crystal clear on how the two are related—but as pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing oral diseases, proper treatment is crucial to support positive outcomes during and after pregnancy. When infection and inflammation in the mouth is properly treated, the risk of low birth weight and preterm birth may be reduced.
While some health conditions may start in your mouth, the opposite is also true—your oral health may be affected as the result of a disease in another part of the body. For example, people who suffer from diabetes are at a higher risk of developing gum disease, making regular periodontal care extremely important. And research suggests that gum disease impacts a person’s ability to properly control blood sugar, further complicating the matter for diabetes patients.
Osteoporosis affects bone density, weakening their strength and resulting in brittle, fragile bones. This has a direct impact on oral health in terms of the jawbone and tooth placement. As osteoporosis progresses, decreasing levels of mineral density causes the jawbone to get weaker and makes teeth more susceptible to displacement or loss. As a result, tooth loss, displacement, or gum disease could be an indicator of osteoporosis.
Keeping your mouth healthy and clean means much more than keeping a bright smile. The connection between your oral health and your overall health is a big one—if your mouth is in poor condition, you could be putting the rest of your body at risk without even realizing it. Give your body the best possible chance at staying healthy by maintaining good oral healthcare habits!
If you’ve been neglecting your oral health, don’t stress—give Steger Smiles a call. We’ll help you schedule your next visit and get you back on track!