Why dental health is so important for your overall health
True or false: The condition of your mouth can say quite a bit about your overall health?
How is this possible? Just like most other parts of your body, your mouth contains bacteria. A lot, in fact. But the mere existence of bacteria isn’t bad… actually, it is good. The problem is that when you aren’t in the best health, the amount of bacteria in your mouth becomes unbalanced. This can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral infections. Conditions that affect your dental health include:
- Diabetes. This condition reduces your body’s ability to fight infections, which puts your overall health – including your dental health – at risk.
- HIV/AIDS. People with HIV/AIDS typically get painful mucosal lesions in their mouth.
- Osteoporosis. If you have osteoporosis, your bones weaken, and that includes your teeth. You could actually lose some of your teeth.
- Alzheimer’s. People suffering from Alzheimer’s tend to have progressively poorer dental health.
Sometimes, issues in your mouth are not necessarily caused by overall poor health. For example, taking a decongestant for a cold, painkillers for a headache, or antidepressants for mental health can affect the body’s ability to keep the levels of bacteria in check, resulting in oral health issues.
It also works the other way too. Not taking care of your dental health can lead to issues in other areas of your body. Prime examples include:
- Endocarditis. This is an infection of the inner lining of your heart. This can happen when bacteria from one part of your body, such as your mouth, get in your bloodstream and latch onto any damaged areas of your heart.
- Cardiovascular disease. Bacteria in your mouth could be linked to clogged arteries, heart disease, and increased risk for stroke.
- Pregnancy and birth. Poor oral health and gum disease can be factors in premature birth and low birth weight.
Obviously, making an appointment to see your doctor is important for your overall health. But don’t forget regular visits to your dentist either! They know what to look for regarding your dental health, which can offer telling glimpses into your general well-being.