Your mouth and oral health are so much more important than you might realise and can even offer clues to your overall health and wellbeing. Problems in your mouth can affect other areas of your body and your mouth and oral health can indicate issues potentially going on in the background.
We could all benefit from learning more about our oral health and the connections it has to our overall health and wellbeing so, with that in mind, let’s take a look into why your oral health is a window into your overall health and wellness.
What’s The Connection Between Our Oral and Overall Health?
Your mouth is full of bacteria and, whilst the huge majority of it is harmless, there are some potentially harmful ways in which you can be exposed to the bad bacteria. Your mouth is the direct entry point to your digestive system and respiratory tracts and some of these bad bacteria can cause illness and infections, both in your mouth and body.
Good daily oral health and care, such as brushing and flossing, is often enough to keep this bacteria under control but, without proper oral hygiene, this harmful bacteria could multiply into levels that then go on to cause oral troubles, such as gum disease and tooth decay.
Certain medications that you might take on a daily basis, such as painkillers, antidepressants and antihistamines can reduce saliva production. As saliva is used to wash away and break down food and neutralise acids that are created in the mouth, this can cause problems and also lead to the development of certain oral concerns.
What Health Concerns Are Linked To Oral Health?
Poor oral health could be contributing to the development of certain diseases and health concerns, including:
Although the link is not fully understood, some scientists believe that heart disease can be linked to the inflammation and infections that poor oral health and mouth bacteria can cause.
Taking care of your oral health is particularly important if you are pregnant, or trying to conceive. A lot of families don’t realise that poor oral health can actually be linked to periodontitis, which can then cause issues such as low birth weight or even premature birth.
There are certain groups of bacteria that, if they get into your lungs, could potentially increase the risk of developing pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses.
There are also certain health conditions that can have a direct effect on your oral health and wellness, including:
Diabetes reduces your body’s resistance to infections and having diabetes can put your oral health at risk. Studies have shown that gum disease is much more prevalent in those who have diabetes and struggle to keep their blood sugars under control.
Hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as extreme morning sickness, can greatly impact on your oral health. The often excessive vomiting exposes your teeth to acid from your stomach which then damages and harms the enamel on your teeth. This can cause extreme tooth sensitivity, and staining and, in some cases, can cause gum disease or tooth loss at a later date.
How To Protect Your Teeth
If you suspect that you have bad oral health, or that other illnesses are causing your oral health to suffer, then there are some ways in which you can help to protect your teeth and gums. Be sure to brush your teeth regularly throughout the day, making sure to brush at least twice. Support brushing with regular mouthwash and floss use, so that you are removing any plaque buildup that brushing might not shift.
Depending on your health concerns, it might not be just your oral health that could benefit from a well balanced and healthy diet. If you have diabetes or cardiovascular disease, then a healthy diet could help both your general and oral health. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (crunchy ones can help to remove plaque or dilute your saliva) and then balance this with starchy foods, proteins, dairy and natural foods such as nuts, seeds, legumes, grains and oats.
Reducing your sugar intake not only takes direct stress away from your mouth and teeth, but can also help you become healthier overall. Limiting your daily sugar consumption can reduce your risk of developing tooth decay and a lot of the sugar which we consume is hidden in foods such as sweets, fruit juice, pastries, jams and dried fruits. Keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water and try to avoid regularly drinking sugary drinks, such as juice and soda and avoid adding sugar to hot drinks.
Pay regular and frequent visits to your dentist in Warrington so that they can take a more in-depth look at your oral health and spot any early signs of potential issues. At home, check your mouth, tongue, gums and back of the throat regularly, keeping an eye out for any sore spots that aren’t healing, white patches, discolouration or bad breath, as these symptoms can often be a sign of a more serious, underlying issue which will need to be investigated, either by your dentist or doctor.