5 Reasons Healthy Gums are Key to Your Overall Health
The health of your gums, teeth, and mouth play a more important part in your overall health than you may realize. Oral health provides clues to the overall health of your body and problems in your mouth affect the rest of your body.
The connection between oral health and overall health.
As with other parts of the body, the mouth contains a lot of bacteria most of which are harmless. The mouth is the entry point to the respiratory and digestive tracks and some of its bacteria may cause disease.
A combination of practicing good oral care and the body’s natural defenses keep bacteria under control. with poor oral hygiene, bacteria grow to unhealthy levels which leads to oral infection, gum disease, and tooth decay.
Medication such as painkillers, decongestants, antihistamines, and diuretics may decrease saliva flow. In the healthy mouth, saliva neutralizes acids created by bacteria in the mouth. It washes away food and helps protect you from microbes that multiply and cause disease.
In severe gum disease (periodontitis) a considerable amount of inflammation and oral bacteria is present in the mouth. This disease causes pain, bad breath, tooth loss, chewing difficulties, swollen and bleeding gums. This condition has been linked to a number of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes which lowers your body’s resistance to infection.
Disease conditions linked to oral health
• Cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have shown a strong link between oral health, tooth loss, and gum disease and a high rate of cardiovascular problems such a stroke and heart attack. The connection is still being studied but research suggests that stroke, clogged arteries, and heart disease may be linked to infections and inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
• Osteoporosis. Studies have shown that tooth loss and periodontal bone loss have been linked to the weakening of the bones resulting in osteoporosis. Also, some drugs used for osteoporosis treatment also cause damage to the jawbones.
• Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that decreasing oral health is directly related to the increased progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Periodontitis can be treated and is preventable, so periodontal patients should be made aware of the potential impact their gum disease can have on their cognitive skills.
• Endocarditis. This condition is caused by infection of the lining of the heart chambers and valves (endocardium) when germs and bacteria travel from different parts of the body, such as the mouth, travels in the blood and attaches to the heart.
• Diabetes. Studies have shown that people with gum disease have difficulty controlling their blood pressure levels and high blood sugar levels produce dry mouth which can make gum disease even worse. This situation may be helped with regular dental care.
How to protect your oral health
Good oral hygiene should be practiced on a daily basis in order to protect your oral health.
• Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste as that may help prevent gum disease. Ideally, brush your teeth when you wake up in the morning, after every meal, and before you go to bed.
• Floss your teeth once daily or you may use a dental pick instead. Both techniques help remove plaque and will give you cleaner teeth.
• Use a mouthwash to remove food particles left after you brush and floss your teeth.
• Eat a healthy diet and eliminate or reduce those foods containing added sugar since they will promote the formation of plaque build-up and tooth decay.
• Use a new toothbrush every 3 months, sooner if you have just gotten over a cold or the bristles have become worn or splayed.
• Attend regular dental check-ups and cleaning once or twice a year.
• Do not use tobacco products.
Be sure to check your mouth often for any problems such as loose teeth, ulcers that heal slowly, or pain. Reach out to your dentist to schedule an appointment when dental issues arise. Good dental health is an important investment in your overall health.