Your oral health is a window to your overall health – see how it impacts you
Many people probably don’t realise, but your oral health plays a vital role in keeping you healthy and protected from germs. To discover why keeping your teeth and gums healthy is important, read on!
The connection between your oral health and overall wellbeing
Your mouth is the entry point to your digestive tract and respiratory tract; which means any bacteria inside the mouth can make its way to these other areas. Most of the bacteria within your mouth is harmless, however bad oral hygiene can increase the number of harmful bacteria.
Without good oral health, which includes brushing, flossing and rinsing your mouth daily, bad bacteria inside your mouth can reach levels where you are at risk to infections, such as gum disease (periodontitis) and tooth decay.
Many studies have shown that bad oral hygiene, especially that related to the inflammation of periodontitis, may play a part in the development of certain diseases. This only makes sense as your mouth is after all connected to your digestive and respiratory tracts.
These conditions may be linked to oral health
Research has suggested that oral infections and inflammation may be linked to heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries. The inflammation may cause atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, which is the build-up of cholesterol, fats and other on the artery walls, which can lead to restricted blood flow or clotting.
This is an infection of the inner lining of the heart’s chambers or valves. This is typically caused when bacteria and germs enter your bloodstream and attach to areas within the heart. This includes infections within the mouth, such as gum disease.
The bacteria cause small lumps called vegetations which affect the valves ability to open and close properly. These vegetations can spread to other areas.
This condition can be prevented by maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing gum disease, dental abscesses and other conditions from worsening. The dentist will prescribe antibiotics to people who are prone to endocarditis before they undergo a dental procedure (including any procedure manipulating the gums, roots, teeth or any treatment perforating the mouth). This is important as certain dental treatments can push bacteria into the bloodstream.
Who is at greater risk of developing endocarditis?
According to the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand some conditions put you at more risk of developing infective endocarditis, including:
Prosthetic heart valves (biological or mechanical)
Rheumatic valvular heart disease
Artificial joint replacement/prosthetic implants
Unrepaired cyanotic congenital heart disease (includes palliative shunts and conduits)
Surgical or catheter repair of congenital heart disease within 6 months of repair procedure.
Antibiotics are required prior to dental procedures for those at-risk, according to the Australian and New Zealand Heart Foundation.
Since your mouth acts as the window to your respiratory tract, bacteria can be pulled down into your lungs. This can be a cause of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
Sufferers of diabetes are at a greater risk to gum diseases, as diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infections. Gum disease is more frequent in those who have diabetes. Not only does gum disease cause a risk of infection spreading, it may cause insulin resistance, making it harder to control blood sugar levels.
Pregnancy & Birth Complications
Bad oral health and gum disease has been linked to premature birth and the baby having a low birth weight. This is sought to be due to oral bacteria cause a toxin that can get into the bloodstream and travel to the placenta and interfere with the growth and development of the fetus. Oral infection can also cause pregnant women to enter labour prematurely.
This condition causes bones to weaken, this includes the jawbone which supports and holds the teeth down. Osteoporosis can cause the jawbone to lose density increasing the risk of tooth loss and fractures. Losing bone density may leave your jawbones and gums susceptible to periodontal bacteria.
Failing to maintain good oral hygiene, you are increasing your chances of suffering from oral cancer. Gum disease, using alcohol containing mouthwashes, drinking alcohol and smoking are all factors that increase the chances of oral cancer developing.
Studies have reported that people suffering from kidney disease are more likely than other people to suffer from periodontal disease and other oral health issues. Since kidney disease weakens the immune system, it also increases the chance of oral health infections. This means ongoing oral health problems may be a sign, especially if you maintain good oral health and still suffer issues.
Dementia & Tooth Loss
Studies have shown that individuals suffering from tooth loss had a higher risk of dementia over those not suffering from tooth loss. There is a connection between tooth loss and cognitive impairment.
Poor oral health causes infection and if this spreads to bloodstream and ends up in the brain, it can actually kill brain cells; increasing the risk of dementia, memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
These are just some of the conditions which have been linked or thought to be linked to bad oral hygiene and expresses why it’s important to keep your mouth clean and healthy.
How to keep your mouth clean and healthy
It’s important to practice good oral hygiene daily, by doing the following:
Brushing your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste containing fluoride
Flossing your teeth daily to remove trapped food debris
Alcohol free mouthwash can help kill bad bacteria
Regular dental check-ups every six months
Replacing your toothbrush at least every three months
Avoiding tobacco use and limiting alcohol consumption
Maintaining a healthy diet with adequate vitamins and minerals
Avoid products with high sugar contents (sugar feeds bacteria in plaque, causing acids)
Drink enough water daily
Contact Oracare in Cleveland QLD if you’re worried about your dental health
Get in touch with the oral health professionals at Oracare if you are due for a check-up or have an issue that is concerning you. Please click here.
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