Why Oral Health is Important to your Overall Health
December 30, 2020
Dr. Katherine Nicholson
It’s hard to believe, but keeping your mouth healthy can have a big impact on the health of your overall body. Taking daily, simple steps to make flossing and brushing a regular part of your daily routine can have long-lasting impacts on your health and well-being.
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Alternatively, not taking proper care of your oral health can lead to issues like diabetes, and even heart disease. In this blog, we’ll highlight some common dental issues that, when left unchecked, can lead to these broader health problems. We’ll also highlight the simple steps you can take to prevent these bigger problems from developing.
Dental Issue #1: Gingivitis
One issue that can negatively affect your overall health is “gingivitis,” a form of gum disease (also known as Periodontal disease), that causes redness, inflammation and swelling of the gum tissue surrounding your teeth.
Common causes of gingivitis are poor oral hygiene that, over time, encourages plaque to form on the teeth. Plaque requires daily removal because it re-forms rapidly. Plaque can then harden into tartar, and requires a dental professional to remove it. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to possible tooth loss over time.
Dental Issue #2: Cavities
Your mouth collects bacteria of all kinds. Some kinds of bacteria are healthy in small quantities. However, other kinds, like the bacteria found in sugary foods, can cause bigger problems.
This kind of bacteria, as well as food acid, debris, and even your own saliva can combine to form plaque, which clings to your teeth. This plaque acts as an enamel-dissolver, causing tiny holes that create tooth decay.
This permanent tooth erosion is a cavity. Frequent snacking or sipping on sugary drinks can cause cavities to form.
How do these oral health issues affect the rest of your body?
Increasingly, researchers are discovering a strong connection between a decline in oral health such as gingivitis and cavities, and broader health conditions in the body. The Mayo Clinic sites that oral bacteria can be associated with the following health issues:
-Heart inflammation (or “endocarditis”)
-Premature birth or low birth weight in pregnant women
The reason for this broader connection between oral health and the body is that bacteria found in your mouth can actually travel into your bloodstream, causing a dangerous infection of your heart valves called “infective endocarditis.”
Pregnant women are more susceptible to gum disease, if daily home care is not maintained. Pregnancy hormones can increase inflammation in gum tissue, causing gingivitis. Issues like these can cause poor health outcomes like premature birth or low birth weight in babies. Taking extra care to protect oral health of mothers and infants should be an important part of prenatal care.
How can I prevent these issues?
The best way to prevent dental issues like these from forming is through proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and don’t forget to floss. In addition to these proper daily habits, schedule regular dental cleanings every 6-12 months. A professional cleaning is the best way to get rid of any plaque and tartar that you may have missed, and that could lead to broader health problems.
Additionally, taking steps to make healthy dietary choices and monitor blood sugar is an important step to a healthy body. Limit your sugary snacks, and follow a high-fiber, low-fat diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
This is why caring for your oral health is so important, because the simple steps you take now can have far reaching benefits for a healthy future.
Contact Carolina General & Cosmetic Dentistry
Dr. Nicholson and all of our staff are dedicated to protecting your dental health through regular cleanings, exams and cosmetic restoration. If you are experiencing any signs of dental issues, don’t hesitate to give our office a call. One of our friendly team members will help set up an appointment for a thorough exam.