When you think about your teeth and gums, you may think the only things they affect are your eating habits and your smile. The reality is that your oral health is directly linked to how the rest of your body is doing. It is important to learn how poor oral health can lead to serious disease, but also how your body may be affecting your mouth.
The Link Between Oral Health and Overall Health
The most obvious link between oral and general health is in how our ability to eat affects our choice in diet. The National Survey of Adult Oral Health noted that “17.4 percent [of patients with dental issues] avoid foods due to dental problems; 15.1 percent experience toothache; and 22.6 percent experience orofacial (jaw) pain.” These problems lead to a poor diet and then to associated illnesses such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and kidney disease.
According to the Department of Health Services Victoria, loss of teeth and severe gum disease (also known as periodontal disease), can lead to a seven times increase in likelihood of coronary vascular disease. This affects the small arteries in the heart, which can become inflamed and blocked.
Even low levels of bone loss due to poor oral health had a significant connection to developing cardiological problems, including heart attacks.
The same inflammatory mechanisms caused by periodontal disease may also lead to other vascular problems including kidney disease and strokes.
The link between diabetes and oral health goes both ways. While research has shown that severe gum disease can affect your blood glucose levels, diabetes can also increase the likelihood of such disease occurring.
Diabetes also causes Xerostomia (dry mouth syndrome) which decreases the amount of much-needed saliva.
For these reasons, dentists and doctors alike agree that people with diabetes should attempt to have regular oral checkups more often than ordinary patients.
Those going through pregnancy commonly have minor tooth pain and bleeding gums during their third trimester. The hormonal changes that pregnant women experience also increased the risk of periodontal disease.
Unfortunately, such disease can lead to quite concerning complications. Bacterial infection arising from gum disease can lead to lower birth rates and premature birth, both of which have negative outcomes on the child.
New research indicates that poor oral health may also lead to the dangerous condition known as preeclampsia (high blood pressure), which can lead to serious complications for both mother and child.
If you are pregnant or trying for a baby, it is essential to book a visit to your dentist in order to prevent or treat gum disease.
Caring for Your Oral Health
With so many serious complications arising from poor oral health, it is important that you treat your mouth as seriously as you do every other part of your body. Following these steps should be considered the minimum amount of work you put into keeping healthy.
Brush and Floss Your Teeth Daily
You need to brush your teeth twice a day, morning and night. Make sure you know the proper technique for brushing, and make sure you fully clean by using floss or interdental brushes. If you are unsure about your brushing and flossing techniques, do not be afraid to ask your dentist to show you.
Deal with Your Oral Health Issues Promptly
The longer you leave a trip to the dentist, the more likely you will develop severe disease. Tooth pain, bleeding gums, and bad breath are all signs of poor oral health and should be taken seriously. Book an appointment immediately.
Inform Your Dentist About Your Medical History
Dentists are medical health professionals. They have the same ethical responsibility to ensure your privacy and take your complete health seriously. What conditions you have and medications you take can help us provide you with better support for your teeth and save you from serious complications.
Get Your Teeth Cleaned Regularly
Everyone, regardless of health, should see a dentist at least twice a year. For those who are at risk of serious illness, or require extra treatment, this may need to be more often. At these visits, dentists can perform thorough checks of your teeth, give them a professional clean, and may perform a dental x-ray to discover any hidden issues.
The clean you receive from a dentist is far more thorough than anything you could perform at home. The dentist uses special techniques and equipment to remove tartar that cannot be removed by ordinary brushing, and can get to some areas under the gum that you may be struggling to properly floss.
Dental on York Can Help
Need help keeping your oral hygiene in tip-top shape? Dental on York is here for you. Our team of expert dental hygienists and dentists takes the time necessary to truly understand our patients’ concerns and treatment goals. We provide all our patients with their own personalised service, care, and tailored treatment plans. Book an appointment with us today.