How Oral Health Affects Your Total Health

How Oral Health Affects Your Total Health

We encourage everyone to care for their teeth as a way to prevent oral diseases such as gingivitis, cavities and dental abscess. But did you know that oral hygiene can also impact your overall health? Here are some of the ways that your oral health affects your total health:

Oral Health and Heart Disease

heart listening to a stethoscope on a tooth over a city skyline background
Dental health is linked with heart health.

 

One of the ways that oral health affects your total health is from the increased inflammation that comes with gum disease. Inflammation and gum disease have both been shown to be risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Gum disease comes from poor oral hygiene, so  brushing and especially flossing could protect you from those life threatening conditions. For tips on helping stubborn kids establish good dental health habits, read our article How to Help Kids Enjoy Dental Hygiene.

Oral Health and Infection

Germs love warm, wet, dark environments so the mouth is a perfect place for infection to grow. Fortunately, our mouths create a powerful protection for us: saliva. Saliva contains antibodies and protective proteins that help fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. However, your mouth still hosts over 500 different microorganisms at any given time, so maintaining good hygiene habits plays an important role in preventing, not only cavities, but various other forms of oral infection as well. Left untreated, oral infections can spread throughout the body and cause conditions such as septic shock.

Even before the spread of the infection, however, oral infections can cause a host of health concerns from fatigue to centralized pain and even fevers. Thorough brushing and flossing can help prevent infections and the serious overall health complications they cause.

The Diabetes Connection

Diabetes is strongly correlated with periodontitis (inflamed/infected gums). In other words, people with diabetes often either have or develop gum disease. While the causal relationship hasn’t been established yet, studies have shown that gum disease makes controlling blood sugar more difficult for people with diabetes. Therefore, proper dental care could help diabetic patients with their diabetes control.

An Extra Health Boost

Most of us work hard to protect our overall health with good nutrition and exercise habits, but true holistic health requires more than diet and exercise. Regular brushing and flossing are also important health practices to adopt. If you think you could be doing more to protect your oral health, check out this article for some additional preventive power: Your Cavity Control Checklist.

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