Your teeth and mouth, in general, are a mirror of what is going on in the body overall, and a healthy mouth is reflective of total body wellness.
Swollen gums, worn down teeth, dry mouth, bad breath, ulcers, and swelling can be a warning sign of systemic problems including diabetes, heart disease, digestive and adrenal disorders, and even cancer.
Excellent oral and dental health help to prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. Plus, you get to keep your teeth longer!
But, Did You Know That a Healthy Mouth May Also Help Protect Against Other Medical Issues?
What’s in your mouth reveals a lot about your health. Your mouth is the window for what’s going on in the rest of your body. Think about it. Our bodies are holistic “systems,” where everything is interconnected.
Without proper oral hygiene, oral infections may occur, and the bacteria from these diseases can spread throughout your body, putting your overall health at risk. If your immune system is already weakened and compromised, your body has a harder time fighting off these infections and can make them more severe.
An unhealthy mouth may increase your risk of severe health problems, especially if you have some form of gum disease. These health problems can include:
- Heart issues (cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke) – While the precise why is unknown, multiple systematic reviews have associated poor gum health (periodontitis) with a dramatically increased risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and clogged arteries. Additionally, inflammation in the gums increases the chance for a heart attack because the inflamed blood vessels don’t push as much blood flow to the heart, which then pumps it to the rest of the body. Plaque can break off the wall of the blood vessel, and it can travel to the heart or brain, which may cause a heart attack or stroke.
- Endocarditis – Endocarditis is a potentially dangerous infection of the heart’s inner lining, and it occurs when infection and inflammation from other parts of the body spread to the heart. Inflammation could be brought on by bacteria from the mouth, among other things. Bacteria can latch onto surfaces in the heart, such as valves, and cause inflammation.
- Diabetes – Inflammation in the mouth weakens the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Since people with diabetes can’t process or manage blood sugar very well, it increases complications.
- Preterm labor or pregnancy issues – Inflammation and infection in the gums of pregnant women may interfere with the development of the fetus. And due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, soon-to-be mothers need regular dental exams even more than others to make sure their oral health does not adversely affect their child.
On the flip side, there are also non-oral health conditions that can have an adverse effect on your mouth.
- Diabetes – Diabetes suppresses the immune system and reduces your body’s ability to fight infections. Also, high blood sugar levels can lead to severe gum disease and tooth decay. Lastly, diabetes can cause dry mouth, which reduces saliva flow; a thin film of saliva covers teeth and buffers against bacteria, while antimicrobial agents in saliva kill disease-causing bacteria.
- Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis can damage the jawbone, causing brittle teeth and tooth loss.
Taking Good Care of Your Mouth, Teeth and Gums is a Worthy Goal in and of Itself. But, Now You Know the Benefits Don’t Stop at Your Uvula!
Until next time!