Ever wondered if your oral health has an effect on your overall health?
Recent studies have shown that there is a connection between your oral health, more specifically gum disease, and your overall body health. Although these studies have not been 100% proven, the chronic conditions that may come from bad oral health should not be overlooked. Some common oral related health concerns are heart disease, diabetes, and everyday medication.
According to Lillian Bensley, PhD, at Washington State Department of Health, 40% of people who have gum disease are more likely to have a chronic condition on top of it. Your mouth is an open door for bacteria to reside in. The bacteria build up on your teeth can trigger your gums to inflame, and if not controlled, will eventually cause severe gum disease. Unfortunately, gum disease doesn’t just stop at your gums; it can also cause problems for the rest of your body.
Heart disease and gum disease have been suggested to work hand-in-hand with 91% of patients showing to have both heart and gum disease and 66% of patients just having gum disease.
Although these numbers aren’t striking, these conditions may result in a heart attack or stroke. Both heart and gum disease have common associations like smoking, unhealthy diets, and excess weight.
The most common condition linked to gum disease is diabetes. If you already have diabetes, there is a high chance that you will develop gum disease in your lifetime, if you do not have it already. Gum disease can also make your diabetes worse. The inflammation weakens your body’s ability to maintain blood sugar, leaving you with insufficient levels of insulin. Diabetes also reduces your body’s fight against infection which explains the common connection with gum disease.
Everyday medications like decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics, and antidepressants can reduce the amount of saliva your mouth produces. Saliva helps wash out left over food particles and helps to equalize acids that produce the bad mouth bacteria. Having too little saliva can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. If you’re taking any of the medications listed above, consistent oral habits will reduce your chances of developing gum disease.
Everyday oral health tips that can help reduce the chances of other health problems:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride based toothpaste
- Floss daily
- Maintain a healthy diet with limited snacks
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings
- Avoid tobacco use