What if you were damaging your health every day and you didn’t know it?
Many people don’t realize the role that oral hygiene plays in their overall health. And if your oral hygiene is bad, you may be jeopardizing the rest of your body.
How does oral health tie to overall health, and how can you improve your oral health? Keep reading to learn the answers!
The Oral Hygiene Connection
We’ve put together the definitive guide to oral health and overall health. Before we dive any further, it’s important to explore the basic connection within your body.
As you may already know, your mouth is filled with bacteria. This is why regular brushing and flossing are so important: it’s a way to keep these bacteria levels down.
However, poor oral care means these bacteria will multiply. Before you know it, the bacteria will interact with sugar and create acids within your mouth.
These acids hurt your teeth and serve as the root cause of many oral hygiene problems, including tooth decay and gum disease. If left untreated, this leads to further infections that spread beyond the mouth and to other parts of your body.
Ultimately, good oral care is one of the most important ways you can protect your entire body. But if that oral care is lacking, you are at enhanced risk for a number of different problems.
We don’t often think about oral health and heart health being connected. Nonetheless, poor oral health puts you at a greater risk of strokes and heart attacks!
Why is that? Bad oral health causes plaque to build upon your teeth. As the plaque builds up, it can actually block the arteries in your body.
While cholesterol is the “main” threat to your arteries, plaque can easily get into your bloodstream and clog those same arteries. And the result is painful (and possibly debilitating) heart attacks and strokes.
The upside is that it takes time for plaque to reach dangerous levels. By taking care of the issue sooner rather than later, you can protect your heart health.
Your dentist may have warned you about gum disease. Gum disease is already scary because it can cause periodontitis, which is when your inflamed gums actually pull away from your teeth!
If that’s not scary enough, though, gum disease may also make diabetes even worse. Why? Because gaps between gums and teeth may become infected, and these infections make it more difficult for your body to absorb the insulin you’ll need to lower your blood sugar back down.
On top of that, a high blood sugar level can make those same mouth infections even worse. Until you treat the gum disease directly, your body will be caught in a dangerous and damaging cycle.
Have you ever thought about what causes pneumonia? You may hear advice about avoiding getting wet on a cold night, but the real threat is bacteria getting inside your lungs.
Unfortunately, poor oral hygiene can cause pneumonia. It’s easy to see why: air travels directly from your mouth into your lungs. And if your mouth is crawling with dangerous bacteria, every breath puts your lungs in danger!
Even if it doesn’t cause pneumonia, breathing that bacteria into your lungs can cause other respiratory problems. And the risk only goes up as you get older. In fact, pneumonia and other respiratory problems can be deadly to the elderly!
Earlier, we discussed how poor oral health can lead to poor heart health. In addition to a risk of heart attacks or strokes, bad oral health can also lead to endocarditis.
This refers to a condition where the inner lining of your heart valves and chambers gets infected. Such an infection can lead to blood clots, organ damage, abnormal heart rhythm, and more.
If you let gum disease go untreated for too long, it can lead to gingivitis which causes your mouth to bleed. And that makes it easy for infected blood to get into your bloodstream and cause endocarditis and other health problems.
It’s especially important to watch your oral health when you are pregnant. And that’s because oral health and prenatal health are very closely related.
For example, hormones from pregnancy can take your existing oral health issues and make them worse. And certain oral issues such as periodontitis can lead to premature delivery, low birth weight, and other unexpected complications.
Remember, when you’re pregnant, you’re responsible for more than just your own health. And that makes your oral health more important than ever before!
Believe it or not, bad oral health puts those who have HIV at greater risk. This is because those with HIV already struggle with weakened immune systems. And that makes every potential infection from bad oral hygiene that much more dangerous.
Additionally, certain HIV treatments put you at greater risk of oral health problems. Antiviral medications that dry your mouth out may enhance your risk of cavities, and those with HIV are more likely to develop painful lesions in the mouth.
The Importance of Regular Oral Care
Why do so many people struggle with poor oral health? It’s because they see oral hygiene as something to be “reactive” to instead of “proactive” about.
When your tooth hurts, for example, you go to the dentist. But by the time your tooth hurts, you probably already have a cavity, cracked tooth, or other issues. And regular dental care could keep that from ever happening to you.
That’s why it’s so important to find a local professional dentist that you can trust. With regular cleanings and other visits as needed, you can make sure your oral hygiene is strong enough to protect the rest of your body.
Time to Improve Your Health
Now you know more about the link between oral hygiene and your overall health. But do you know who can improve your oral hygiene like never before?
We specialize in providing a full range of dental services to patients of all ages. To see what we can do for your own oral health, contact us today![wp_social_sharing]