When thinking about oral health, we often restrict our thoughts to clean teeth, fresh breath, and the absence of cavities. But increasingly, research is revealing that oral health is a mirror reflecting our overall health and wellbeing. Let’s delve into this fascinating connection between oral health and whole body wellness.
Oral Health: More Than Just a Pretty Smile
Optimal oral health is about more than just preventing tooth decay. It encompasses everything from the condition of your teeth and gums to the health of your jaw bones and the balance of bacteria living in your mouth.
The Mouth-Body Connection
Your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and the state of your oral health can affect the rest of your body and vice versa. Bacteria can enter your body through your mouth, and if your immune system is compromised, or oral hygiene is poor, this can lead to oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease.
Furthermore, certain medications like decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, and diuretics can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, aiding in the protection against microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease.
Oral Health and Chronic Diseases
Numerous studies suggest that oral health issues may be associated with various diseases and conditions.
- Cardiovascular disease: Although the connection is not entirely understood, some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
- Diabetes: Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people with diabetes are at increased risk for serious gum disease because they are generally more susceptible to bacterial infection and have a decreased ability to fight bacteria that invade the gums.
- Pregnancy and birth complications: Periodontitis (a severe form of gum disease) has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Alzheimer’s disease: Oral health problems may be associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Tooth loss before age 35 might be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Prioritizing Oral Health for Overall Wellness
Maintaining good oral health is crucial for overall health. Here are some ways to help protect your oral health:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit food with added sugars.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
- Avoid tobacco use and limit alcohol.
Optimal oral hygiene habits, a healthy diet, and regular dental visits can help prevent oral health problems and their potential effects on the body. After all, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health. So, let your oral health reflect your commitment to total body wellness, and keep smiling! Call our office today to schedule an appointment!