The mouth is considered a gateway to the body. That being said, your oral health can have an effect on just about every system in your body. To figure out how the mouth affects the body, it’s necessary to know what may go wrong first.
The Connection Between Mouth & Body
Many conditions and diseases have an influence on oral health. You may get a mouth infection if your immune system is weakened. Likewise, the immune system keeps your body protected from infection and illness. Different things can make the immune system weak, such as diseases and drugs. For instance, there are drugs that cause dry mouth.
Aside from affecting the taste, it can increase the risk of yeast infections and dental decay. On the other hand, oral health can impact or trigger other medical conditions. If you’re diabetic, for example, a severe mouth infection can make your disease more difficult to control by disrupting the blood-sugar levels. That can wreak havoc on your overall health.
Chronic periodontitis can put you at risk of getting a variety of medical problems like kidney disease, heart disease, and premature births. In the United States, about 47% of people over 30 have periodontal disease. Note that this number rises with age. Another 50 percent have gingivitis – inflammation of the gums. Its management and treatment can sometimes have a significant impact on overall health.
Poor Oral Health & Other Conditions
The typical signs/symptoms of poor oral health include:
- Painful chewing
- Bad taste
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Gums pulling away from the teeth
- Teeth that don’t fit together when biting
Be sure to see your dentist if you notice any of these symptoms. Prevention is easier than a cure. So, be proactive as you may have a hard time trying to reverse disease once it progresses.
Keep in mind that periodontal disease sometimes leads to different health issues beyond the mouth. Moreover, there’s a strong connection between some chronic conditions and periodontal disease, as you can see below:
Although the reasons aren’t fully explained yet, it is clear that heart disease and gum disease oftentimes go hand in hand. Many patients who suffer from heart disease also have periodontal disease. Furthermore, some experts believe that periodontitis directly increases the risk of heart disease.
The oral inflammation can cause inflammation of blood vessels. This affects blood flow through the body and raises blood pressure. There is another proof of the connection between heart disease and periodontitis. Actually, a few kinds of bacteria causing periodontal disease have been found in arterial plaque of some patients. This plaque is capable of breaking off the walls of blood vessels. When that happens, it travels to the brain and heart, causing a stroke or heart attack.
While fighting an infection, the body has difficulty keeping blood sugar levels under control. That is because the liver excessively releases glucose in order to provide the body with the energy for the fightback. Stress hormones are making cells insulin-resistant at the same time. Such a combination can cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly.
The same holds true for gums infections such as periodontitis. Periodontal disease and diabetes have a two-way relationship. That said, periodontitis can considerably complicate diabetes. As a serious inflammation, it impairs the ability of the body to utilize insulin. High blood sugar, on the other hand, provides excellent conditions for infections to develop. This includes gum infections.
Periodontitis and osteoporosis have a key thing in common. It is bone loss. However, the link between these two conditions is pretty controversial. Periodontitis affects the jawbone, whereas osteoporosis attacks the long bones in the legs and arms.
Many types of research have found links between respiratory diseases and poor oral health. At the CDC Chronic Periodontal Infections Conference, Frank Scannapeico (DMD, Ph.D.) explained how improvements in oral health may have a remarkable impact on patients with pneumonia.
According to him, the plaque around teeth harbours bacteria that can infect the airways when inhaled. Apart from that, most patients with a respiratory problem have low immunity. That means bacteria can grow in their body more easily. When growing in the oral cavity, bacteria can travel to the lungs. This gives rise to respiratory issues such as pneumonia.
Many studies have found that periodontitis puts pregnant women at risk for preterm birth. Actually, periodontal disease causes inflammation that can trigger an immune response. As a result, inflammation and infection interfere with the development of a fetus in the womb.
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
You should make every effort to prevent your teeth from breaking down. Dental health is much more than flossing and brushing. Good oral health requires a lot more. It requires you to eat nutritious foods, especially those that promote remineralization of enamel. You also need to avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Be sure to exercise and control blood pressure regularly.
Aside from that, you also need to regularly see your dentist. It’s recommended to see the dentist every six months and a periodontist in case of gum disease. This is considered the best form of prevention. The key is to catch the oral diseases in the early stage and arrest them in the current state. Otherwise, things can get worse.
Remember that oral health problems don’t only predict a disease. They can worsen the problem or even cause it sometimes. That’s because the mouth and the rest of the body are closely connected. Good overall health begins with the mouth.
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