Your oral and dental health may be more important that you think. Let’s take a look at how the overall health of your mouth, teeth and gums can impact your general health.
Your oral health can provide clues to your overall general health. Sometimes, conditions which occur in the mouth can also affect the rest of your body. Bacteria live in your mouth just as they do in other parts of your body. Most of the time, the bacteria is harmless and under normal circumstances your body’s natural defenses keep the bacteria from causing problems. Daily brushing and flossing can keep these bacteria under control. Unfortunately, if proper home care is neglected the bacteria can reach levels that may lead to infections including decay and gum disease.
Some over-the-counter AND prescription drugs can reduce the amount of saliva your mouth produces. These medicines include decongestants, antihistamines, pain relievers, diuretics and antidepressants. One of the purposes of saliva is washing away food. It also neutralizes acids produced by bacteria. A normal presence of saliva protects you from an overgrowth of bacteria.
Modern medical research correlates a greater occurence of bacteria and inflammation assiciated with periodontitis (several gum disease) with instances of some diseases. Some diseases such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can also lower the body’s resistance to infection and oral health concerns can be greater.
Several major health conditions have also been linked to oral health: Endocarditis (infection of the lining of the heart) and other cardiovascular disease may be linked to inflammation and mouth infection. Periodontitis has also been linked to permature birth and low birth weight.
Diabetes can create your gums at risk since this disease lowers resistance to infection. Research indicates that gum disease makes it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. Regular perodontal care can improve control of diabetes.
Protecting your oral health is as easy as practicing good oral hygiene every day: Brush your teeth at least 2x per day – use fluoride toothpaste. Floss every day. Pursue a health diet and limit between-meal snacks. Get a new toothbrush every 90 days. Schedule regular dental exams and cleanings. Avoid tobacco use (all forms).
Be sure to share your health concerns with your dentist. Make the dentist aware of medications you are taking and changes in your overall health. Taking care of your teeth and oral health is an investment in your wellbeing.