the Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health

Understanding the Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health

Is there a link between oral  health and overall health?  It turns out that keeping up with regular dental check-ups is more important than you might think.

Here, we’ll explore how the health of your mouth is linked to your general well-being. From preventing heart disease to managing diabetes, let’s see why a general dental checkup is about more than just avoiding cavities.

The Mouth-Body Connection

Your mouth acts as a gateway to your body and health. The first line of defence is the oral microbiome, a complex community of bacteria that resides within the mouth. These bacteria are essential for protecting against diseases, but when they become unbalanced, they can contribute to significant health issues. This connection highlights the importance of regular dental check-ups and maintaining effective oral hygiene practices.

Oral Health and Cardiovascular Disease

Recent research has established a strong link between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease. Periodontitis (gum disease) is an infection of the tissues that anchor your teeth and is characterised by inflamed, bleeding gums, bad breath and loose teeth. It can lead to systemic inflammation, which is now thought to contribute to the development of some heart conditions. This occurs when bacteria from inflamed gums enter the bloodstream, potentially causing arterial plaque buildup and increasing the risk of strokes.

Oral Health and Diabetes

The relationship between diabetes mellitus and oral health is complex and bidirectional. Poor oral health can worsen diabetes, while poorly controlled diabetes increases the risk of developing severe gum disease. In diabetics, higher blood sugar levels can lead to increased sugars in the mouth, promoting the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease. Alternatively, severe gum disease can elevate blood sugar levels, complicating diabetes management.

Gentle brushing and flossing after each meal together with the regular use of an antibacterial mouthwash will help to keep bacteria at bay. Rinsing the mouth with clean water not only alleviates ‘dry mouth’ (a diabetes symptom), but replicates the natural cleansing action of saliva.

Oral Health and Respiratory Infections

Poor oral health is a known risk factor for respiratory infections such as pneumonia, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. This risk is largely due to the aspiration (breathing in) of harmful oral bacteria into the lungs, which can lead to infection. If this bacteria is not regularly removed by brushing, flossing and professional dental cleanings, it can multiply and increase the risk of aspiration into the lungs.

Oral Health and Pregnancy

Hormonal changes during pregnancy significantly heighten the risk of developing maternal periodontal disease, leading to complications such as premature birth and low birth weight of their child. Hence, it’s essential for pregnant women to maintain excellent oral hygiene and address any dental issues promptly to protect both their and their baby’s health.

Oral Health and Cognitive Function

Emerging studies suggest a link between gum disease and cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe that bacteria from gum disease might travel to the brain either through nerve channels or the bloodstream, leading to inflammation and potentially contributing to alterations in the brain.

Prevention and Management

Here are some key practices to include in your daily routine:

 ● Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Brush and floss twice a day and use mouthwash to reduce oral bacteria.

● Regular Dental Check-Ups

Visit your dentist every six months for a comprehensive examination and cleaning.

● Eat a Balanced Diet

Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help protect your gums and teeth. 

The connection between oral health and overall health is undeniable. Whether it’s lowering your risk of heart disease or protecting your cognitive function, a healthy mouth plays a crucial role in your general health.

Make the next move to better health.  Contact Allied Dental today to keep both your smile and your body in great shape.