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Your oral health can be an indicator of your overall health since problems with the health of your mouth can affect the rest of your body’s systems and organs. You can protect your oral health by learning more about dental hygiene. Not only will a great smile and fresh breath boost your confidence and make you more self-assured when you interact with others, but oral hygiene can help you protect yourself from serious health issues in the future.
The Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health
Like many other areas of your body, the mouth is filled with bacteria. Most of the bacteria are harmless and don’t have a negative impact on your health as long as they remain in your mouth. However, your mouth is the entryway for your respiratory and digestive systems, and if bacteria get into these tracts, they can lead to disease.
Your body’s natural defense system, as well as good oral hygiene like flossing and brushing your teeth daily, will usually keep the bacteria in your mouth at balanced levels. However, if you don’t exercise proper dental hygiene, oral bacteria can reach dangerous levels and cause infections in the mouth, including gum disease and tooth decay. According to some studies, oral inflammation and bacteria connected with severe gum disease can lead to certain diseases. Some conditions, like HIV/AIDS and diabetes, can weaken the body’s immune system and increase the chances of infection, which can worsen oral health and physical well-being.
Additionally, certain medications like antihistamines, painkillers, antidepressants, diuretics, and decongestants can reduce saliva production. Saliva is essential for washing away food when you eat and balancing the acid levels in your mouth to keep bacteria at bay. If you are taking any of these medicines, you should speak with your dentist about ways to prevent dry mouth so you can keep your overall health intact.
Conditions Linked to Oral Health
Poor dental hygiene can lead to a number of conditions, including endocarditis. This is an infection of the endocardium, which is the heart’s inner lining. When bacteria reach the endocardium, the impurities can spread through the bloodstream and affect the function of the heart.
Poor oral health also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Doctors don’t completely understand the connection between dental hygiene and heart issues yet, but research does indicate that clogged arteries, stroke, and heart disease could be linked to infections and inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
Poor dental hygiene can also cause complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Periodontitis is connected to low birth weight and premature birth.
In some cases, not taking care of your teeth and gums can lead to pneumonia. Some of the bacteria in your mouth can travel to the lungs and cause pneumonia, as well as other respiratory diseases.
If you have HIV/AIDS or diabetes, you should pay special attention to your oral health. Diabetes makes you more likely to develop gum disease, and if you have gum disease, you’ll have a hard time controlling your glucose levels. Oral lesions are common in people with HIV/AIDS, which increases bacterial overgrowth in the mouth.
It is also important to note that declining oral health is often one of the issues people with Alzheimer’s have to contend with as the disease progresses. If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s schedule regular dental appointments for them to keep their gums and teeth in good health.
Protecting Your Oral Health
It’s essential to practice good hygiene every day for your overall well-being. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and make sure your toothpaste has fluoride in it. It’s best to replace your toothbrushes every 90 days or sooner if the bristles become worn. Daily flossing is an important part of oral health as well. Use a mouthwash daily to rinse food particles from your mouth after flossing and brushing.
Maintaining a healthy diet that is low in sugar also protects your teeth and gums and improves your health. Avoid using tobacco and excess drinking. Schedule regular dental appointments and checkups so you’ll know if you should take additional precautions to preserve your oral health. If you have a dental emergency and live in the Westerville area, you can take advantage of emergency dentistry in Westerville, OH to take care of issues like rotting or missing teeth before they impact your health any further.
Making your oral health a priority is one of the best ways to keep your physical health intact. Be sure to tell your dentist if you notice anything unusual during your dental hygiene, or if you’re experiencing any pain or swelling so you can resolve these issues right away.