Although the connection is not well understood, there’s a link between the condition of your oral health and your overall physical well-being.
The mouth is an entry point to your digestive system and the respiratory tract, so it is teeming with bacteria. Some of them are helpful, but others can cause disease. The body’s natural defenses usually keep them under control, along with regular brushing and flossing to maintain your teeth.
If there is not good oral hygiene, then the bacteria in the mouth can lead to oral infections. This issue can cause the teeth to start decaying, which can then promote an increase in gum disease problems.
Medications and the Connection of Oral and Physical Health
Several medications restrict the flow of saliva in the mouth. If you take painkillers, antidepressants, or antihistamines regularly, then there is a natural increase in the risk of experiencing poor oral health.
Decongestants are notoriously known for reducing the amount of saliva that is available in your mouth.
When you don’t have enough of a saliva flow, then there aren’t the necessary levels of fluid that can wash away food or neutralize the acid in your mouth. This function helps to protect your mouth from potentially dangerous microbes that could lead to disease of inflammation.
Diuretics can cause this issue as well. That’s why drinking coffee or tea can be problematic for the oral health of some individuals.
Because particular diseases can lower the body’s resistance to infection, having oral health problems can create severe complications. Periodontitis might play a role in some illnesses as well because of the inflammation it causes.
That’s why a regular checkup with your dentist is an essential part of a healthy routine. You’ll want to schedule cleanings at least 1-2 times per year.
What Are the Conditions Linked to Poor Oral Health?
If you do not have good oral health habits, then your lack of care could contribute to several different conditions or diseases. Here are a few of the most serious problems that doctors have noted since documenting the connection between a person’s oral care and their overall health.
This infection impacts the inner lining of the heart valves or chambers. It typically occurs when the bacteria or other germs from other parts of the body spread through your blood. Then they attach to these areas of the heart to create severe problems in some patients.
2. Cardiovascular Disease
The connection may not be fully understood, but some risks of atherosclerosis and stroke could be linked to the infections or inflammation that oral bacteria can cause with inadequate care. These risks can go down if you visit a dentist to correct the issues with gum disease or tooth decay that might be present.
Some specific bacteria in the mouth can get pulled into the lungs while breathing. When this issue occurs, then it can trigger fluids to build up, which eventually creates a problem with pneumonia. It can be the cause of several other respiratory diseases as well.
4. Birth Complications
Women who are pregnant and have below-average oral health can have problems with at birth. Periodontitis is known to cause low birth weights and has links to premature birth issues.
5. Behavioral Disorders
There are several behavioral disorders and other physical health conditions that could be linked to a person’s oral health. Rheumatoid arthritis, specific cancers, and an immune system disorder that causes a dry mouth are all on that list. Some people may be at a higher risk of an eating disorder because of the bacteria in their mouth as well.
Conditions that Impact Your Oral Health
Certain physical conditions naturally reduce your oral health, even if you maintain high levels of hygiene with frequent brushing and flossing.
Diabetes tends to be the most devastating health condition that impacts oral health. Because it reduces the body’s resistance to infection, your gums are at risk if you’ve been diagnosed with Type I or Type II diabetes. People who have gum disease have difficulties controlling their blood sugar levels.
HIV and AIDs can trigger some oral problems, such as mucosal lesions, which can lead to a desire to avoid brushing the teeth. This decision creates a negative cycle where their oral health then declines, which can trigger more sores and lesions.
Osteoporosis is another significant contributing factor to some oral health issues in older adults. This disease weakens the bones, so it will also impact the teeth and jaw. Some drugs that are used to treat this condition also carry with them a small risk of damage to the jawbone.
Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease will typically experience a worsening of their oral health as their disease progresses.
When you visit your dentist for a regular checkup, you’ll want to discuss all of the medications and supplements that you take. If you have been recently ill or have a chronic condition that could impact your oral health, then your treatment team can work on a plan that will keep your smile as healthy as possible.
How to Protect Oral Health
The best way to protect your oral health is to practice good hygiene habits every day. That means you will want to brush your teeth at least twice per day with a soft-bristled brush. Flossing at least once per day is helpful as well.
Your dentist might recommend a specific toothpaste or mouthwash to protect the health of your teeth.
Then eat a healthy diet with limited added sugars. Replace your toothbrush at least once every three months or whenever the bristles become worn. Avoiding tobacco products is helpful too.
If you schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings, then you can avoid many of the issues that could adversely impact your overall physical health in the future.