How Oral Health Affects General Health

Having healthy teeth, gums, and oral tissues impacts much more than how you look. Having strong oral health also directly impacts your general health and how you feel every day. Bad oral hygiene and dental health can have far-reaching and sometimes very serious consequences for your overall or general health. Teaching your children about brushing, flossing, and paying a visit to the dentist on a regular basis can delay and prevent the following health conditions:

1. Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular disease is a general term that is used to describe illnesses and health conditions that generally affect the heart, blood vessels, and arteries. Scientific studies conducted into the link between tooth loss and Hypertension (high blood pressure) clearly established that people with more than 10 missing teeth are more likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke, or other diseases related to high blood pressure.

Bacteria resulting from gum disease and cavities in the mouth can also enter the bloodstream resulting in atherosclerosis. This is a hardening of the arteries or the build-up of plaque on the walls of the arteries. The narrowed arteries restrict blood flow and can also cause blockages which can result in a stroke.

Endocarditis is another serious heart condition that can be the result of periodontal and gum disease. This is infection and inflammation of the lining of the heart and can result in a heart attack.

2. Respiratory Disease

These are diseases that affect the lungs and respiratory tract. Most notably, bacteria from oral infections that are breathed into the lungs cause lung infections and can result in pneumonia. This may also exacerbate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. A study conducted in nursing homes found that improved oral health significantly reduced respiratory illness in the elderly.

3. Diabetes

It is essential for diabetics to be extra cautious when it comes to oral hygiene. They are more prone to infections and often suffer from bad blood circulation which increases the risk factor for cardiovascular or heart disease. Recent research has also discovered that oral health disease can make it more difficult to manage and control blood sugar.

Periodontal or gum disease may also be a sign of late-stage kidney disease or kidney failure in diabetic patients. In general, many of the symptoms attributed to diabetes are increased by periodontal or other oral health conditions.

4. Mental Health

In the same way that bacteria from the mouth can infect the heart by traveling through the bloodstream, it can affect the brain. This could lead to the development of early onset of senile dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Problems with memory and calculation have both been related to periodontal disease. In addition, poor teeth reduce our self-esteem and can lead to depression.

5. Kidney Disease

Bad oral health has been associated with both early and late-stage chronic kidney disease or CKD. It is believed that the inflammation, infection, and wasting of protein-energy that occurs due to the periodontal disease aggravates the symptoms of kidney disease and should also be taken as a sign of early kidney disease.

It is also important to keep in mind that periodontal diseases and symptoms may be the result of an underlying health condition. It is essential to visit a dentist should you be experiencing gum disease, bad breath, cavities, or any ongoing oral health problems.