The Connection Between Oral Health and Your Overall Health

You can protect yourself and those you care for, by learning more about the connection between your oral health and your overall well-being.

Your oral health offers insights into your overall health. Problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body. You can protect yourself and those you care for, by learning more about the connection between your oral health and your overall well-being.

Oral Health and Overall Health – How are They Connected?

Like all other areas of your body, your mouth contains a lot of bacteria, mostly harmless. However, your mouth is the entry point to your respiratory and digestive tracts, and some of the bacteria in your mouth can cause disease.

The body’s natural defenses, combined with good oral health routines, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep the bacteria under control. But, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that can lead to severe oral conditions, such as infections, tooth decay, and gum disease.

There are certain types of medications that can reduce the flow of saliva. Saliva has an essential job and is necessary to wash away food and neutralize acids, which helps protect you from harmful microbes that can multiply and lead to disease.

There have been studies done that suggest that bacteria in the mouth and the inflammation associated with periodontitis, might play a role in certain diseases. Also, conditions such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes can lower the body’s resistance to infections, making oral health issues more serious.

Conditions Linked to Oral Health

There are various diseases and conditions that your oral health may contribute. Some of these include:

  • Cardiovascular disease – While the connection is not entirely understood, some research suggests that heart disease, stroke, and clogged arteries may link to the infections and inflammation that bacteria in the mouth can cause.
  • Endocarditis – This generally occurs when fungi, bacteria, or other germs from other areas in the body travel through the blood and attach to damaged areas of the heart. Those most at risk are people with artificial or damaged heart valves or other heart conditions.
  • Pneumonia – Certain types of bacteria in the mouth can be drawn into the lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
  • Birth complications and pregnancy – Research suggests that periodontitis, bacteria that cause inflammation in the gums, can travel into the bloodstream and target an unborn baby, which could lead to premature labor and low-birth-weight babies.

To protect your oral health, it is essential to practice good oral hygiene every day. It’s also important to contact your dentist as soon as you have an oral health issue. Taking care of your mouth is an investment in your overall health!

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Updated: February 2, 2022

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