Did you know that your smile can often indicate when there is trouble elsewhere in the body? Research shows that your oral health has a greater impact on your overall health than you may realize. After all, your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body. If you aren’t taking proper care of your teeth, you could be setting yourself up for health issues in the future. Continue reading to learn more from your dentist about the connection between your smile and the rest of your body, including which issues can arise as a result of poor oral health.
How Are Oral Health and General Health Connected?
As you probably already know, your mouth naturally contains all sorts of bacteria. Most of these bacteria are harmless, but when oral health is lacking, this bacteria multiply and combine with sugar to make acid. The acids attack the teeth and lead to cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis. When you have an infection in the mouth, it can spread to other areas in the body and lead to some serious complications.
What Health Issues Can Be Related to Oral Health?
Here are just some of the many complications that can occur as the result of poor oral health:
When you aren’t taking care of your smile, buildups of plaque form on the teeth. This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. This is because the bacteria in oral plaque has been shown to contribute to blocked arteries in a study done by the American Heart Foundation.
If bacteria buildups caused by periodontal disease make it into the bloodstream, this can cause other heart conditions like endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers and valves.
Periodontal disease is known to complicate diabetes. When there is an infection in the mouth, it can make it more difficult for someone who has diabetes to properly absorb insulin medications that lower blood sugar levels. High blood sugar exacerbates infections in the mouth. In the end, both conditions are made worse. If you have diabetes, it is especially important for you to take excellent care of your smile.
Harmful bacteria in the mouth can find its way to the lungs and cause respiratory problems, including pneumonia. For older people, this can be especially threatening to their health, as pneumonia can be life-threatening.
The increase in hormones due to pregnancy can worsen existing dental problems, including gum disease. This is why it is so important for pregnant women to stay up to date with their cleanings and checkups. Periodontitis puts unborn children at risk for premature birth and low birth weight.
Remember that taking care of your smile is about more than just your appearance. By maintaining good oral health, you are also improving your overall wellbeing.
About the Author
Dr. Nicholas Brong is a family dentist serving patients in Rochester, MN. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of California in San Francisco and has received training in both dental implants and laser dentistry. For more information on the importance of maintaining good oral health or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brong, visit his website or call (507) 288-1066.