How Your Oral Health and Your Overall Health Are Connected

We all know that we should brush our teeth twice a day, floss at least once a day, visit a dentist twice a year, and limit sugary and acidic foods. But did you know that your oral health also affects the rest of your body?

It might seem like a strange correlation, but there is solid research that reveals there’s a link between the two. Read on to learn more about how your oral health and overall health are connected.

Your Oral Health Can Reveal a Lot About Your Body

Your oral health says a lot about your overall health. For instance, a look inside your mouth can indicate whether or not you have a systemic disease. Systemic diseases are those that affect your entire body, and a majority of them produce some kind of problem in their mouth.

A few examples of systemic diseases/conditions and their oral symptoms include:

  • HIV/AIDS. When someone is afflicted with HIV/AIDS, it is common for them to experience cold sores, dry mouth, and tooth decay.
  • Diabetes. Those who suffer from diabetes might experience a dry, burning mouth or even gum disease.
  • Anemia. Some oral manifestations of anemia include ulcerations and mucosal pallor.

These kinds of symptoms act as red flags for detecting systemic diseases early on.

Using Oral Health to Diagnosis

Because the health of your mouth acts as a window to your overall health, medical professionals can this area of the body as a diagnostic tool. Your doctor, for instance, can take a swab of saliva to test for things such as:

  • Cortisol. Found in saliva, cortisol levels are often used to test stress responses in newborns.
  • Certain cancers. Markers for certain types of cancer can be present in saliva.
  • Bone-specific proteins. These proteins can be tested to monitor bone loss in those suffering from osteoporosis. 

How Poor Dental Health Affects Your Whole Body

While oral problems can indicate other medical issues, poor oral hygiene can actually affect your body. It might seem like a strange concept - how does neglecting dental hygiene translate into other medical issues?

Your mouth is filled with bacteria. Most of them are harmless and act as your body’s natural defense system, with good dental hygiene taking care of the rest.

If you neglect dental hygiene, however, these bacteria will grow and can result in tooth decay and gum disease. Bacteria from oral infections can easily spread throughout the body via the bloodstream. Some examples of conditions that result from poor oral health include:

  • Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis in particular is known for contributing to low birth weights and even premature births.
  • Diabetes. This condition can cause oral problems, but neglecting oral hygiene can make diabetes even harder to control.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Clogged arteries, strokes, and heart attacks have been linked to infections caused by oral bacteria. 

How to Protect Your Oral And Overall Health

Make sure that you visit a quality dentist twice a year. There are caring practices like all around the country that are always accepting new patients. Bring up any concerns you have so that they can effectively treat you.

Brush and floss regularly, being sure that you are using the proper technique! Being too rough on your teeth can cause just as much as harm as skipping oral hygiene all together. Additionally, you should avoid tobacco products and foods that can harm your teeth.

And finally, just remember how important your oral health next time you are thinking about not flossing or skipping your dentist appointment. Your teeth aren’t the only thing at stake –you might be jeopardizing the way your whole body feels!

Guest post by Russell Edmonds

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