The Link Between Oral Health and Overall Wellbeing
Written By: Dr. Michael Richer
Most people are aware that failing to practice good oral hygiene can lead to a wide range of problems like tooth decay, dental abscesses, and gum disease. But did you know that it can also have an adverse impact on your overall health and well-being?
A growing body of research shows that there is a strong link between oral health and overall health and a decline in oral health can lead to a variety of different health issues that can lower your quality of life and increase the risk of mortality.
Correlation between Oral Health and Overall Well-being
Your mouth serves as the entry point to your respiratory tract and your digestive tract and plays a vital role in determining your overall wellbeing. It is one of the reasons why oral health is considered one of the most reliable indicators of a person’s health – along with nutrition, environmental quality, physical activity, and a number of other factors.
Your mouth contains millions and millions of bacteria, most of which are harmless. The harmful bacteria can be kept in check by practicing good oral hygiene – which includes daily brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups. In the absence of proper oral hygiene, these harmful bacteria can multiply rapidly and cause inflammation and infections that can not only affect your teeth and gums, but your internal organs as well.
Data shows that poor oral health can increase the risk of a wide array of health problems including diabetes, respiratory disorders, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and pregnancy-related complications.
Oral Health and Diabetes
Data shows that there is a strong, two-way relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes. The inflammatory response caused by periodontal disease can affect the pancreatic and liver cells, which can affect your body’s ability to respond to insulin, which in turn can lead to diabetes.
Similarly, data also shows that people with diabetes are at higher risk of developing oral health problems. Elevated blood sugar levels can weaken your immune system, which can make you vulnerable to bacterial infections. So, if you have diabetes or if you have a family history of diabetes, it is all the more important for you to practice good oral hygiene.
Oral Health and Cardiovascular Disease
One of the biggest risks associated with gingivitis and periodontal disease is that the bacteria in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and infect your heart valves. The risk is particularly high among those who have heart valve disease.
Studies also show that chronic inflammatory diseases like periodontal disease can precede sudden vascular events like heart attacks and strokes. The inflammatory response caused by periodontal disease can affect the blood vessels in your body, which in turn can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke significantly.
Oral Health and Alzheimer’s Disease
Poor oral health is one of the factors that can lead to cognitive decline and dementia – particularly among older people. Studies show that periodontal disease can increase the risk of sporadic or late onset Alzheimer’s – which primarily affects those over the age of 60.
Research shows that when periodontal bacteria enter the brain, they can trigger the formation of senile plaques, which are one of the characteristic features of Alzheimer’s.
Oral Health and Respiratory Issues
Poor oral health is considered a risk factor for acute as well as chronic respiratory diseases. When the bacteria in your mouth reach your lungs, you can develop a number of respiratory disorders including asthma, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary fibrosis.
Oral Health and Pregnancy-Related Complications
Data shows that nearly three out of four women tend to develop gingivitis during the course of their pregnancy. The hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy can make them vulnerable to oral problems. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease, which in turn can increase the risk of pregnancy related complications.
Research shows an association between periodontal disease and poor pregnancy outcomes. The risk of poor pregnancy outcomes like preterm birth and low birth weight is higher among women with periodontal disease compared to women with healthy teeth and gums.
Apart from this, the changes in eating habits during the course of pregnancy can increase the risk of dental cavities in women. If left untreated, these cavity causing bacteria can be transmitted to the child after delivery. As a result, the child might develop cavities at an early age and might require frequent dental care. Data shows that the risk of dental cavities in children born to women with untreated cavities is three times higher compared to children born to mothers who practice good oral hygiene.
Oral Health and Mental Health
Poor oral health can adversely impact your mental health and exacerbate existing mental health problems. Oral health problems can make you feel overly self conscious and affect your self esteem. It can make you feel anxious – particularly when you are with other people at social gatherings. The constant stress and anxiety can have a detrimental effect on your mental health.
Data also shows that people with mental health issues are more likely to develop oral health problems, as they tend to neglect their dental hygiene and tend to smoke, drink, and eat a lot of sugary snacks and processed foods, all of which can adversely affect their oral health as well as overall health.
Moreover, conditions like bad breath, sores in the mouth, and receding gums – which are commonly associated with poor oral hygiene – can impact the way you present yourself to others. It can have a negative impact on your employability and social life and lower your overall quality of life.
Practicing Good Oral Hygiene – The Key to Staying Healthy
Your oral health and overall health are intricately linked. By practicing good oral hygiene, you can prevent oral health problems to a great extent and reduce the risk of various other health problems as well.
At R+R Dental, we provide a wide range of general as well as cosmetic dental care services in Hicksville and surrounding areas. With accomplished dentists Dr. Michael Richer and Dr. Nadia Rivera and our well-trained support staff, we are best equipped to treat all kinds of teeth and gum problems. Call us today at 347-934-6446 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment with one of our highly rated Hicksville dentists.