Health

How Oral Health Impacts Overall Health

By  | 

Our mouths are home to thousands of bacteria – most are harmless; but as gateways into the digestive and respiratory systems, some disease-causing germs may reside here too.

Poor oral health – in particular tooth decay and gum disease – can have detrimental consequences on one’s overall health and wellbeing (AIHW 2017). Some individuals are more prone to periodontal disease due to biological and lifestyle factors.

Poor oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is one of the primary contributors to dental cavities, gum disease and other health conditions such as heart disease. Furthermore, poor oral hygiene has been linked to risk behaviors like smoking and an excessive consumption of sugary beverages as well as lack of regular dental visits.

Medical professionals continue to uncover evidence demonstrating a connection between oral health and systemic well-being, showing that a healthy mouth is integral for overall well-being.

As an example, bacteria from an unclean mouth entering the bloodstream can spread and cause inflammation throughout the body, increasing your risk for diabetes, stroke and preterm labor as well as oral infections like gum disease. Furthermore, aspiration from oral bacteria may lead to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia.

Oral disease is also an invitation for human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus responsible for most throat cancers. An HPV vaccine protects over 90% of HPV-linked cases.

A healthy mouth allows you to chew food properly, which is key for digestion processes and maintaining a balanced diet. Furthermore, oral care strengthens immune system functioning; having teeth and gums that are in good condition decreases chronic inflammation – linked to Alzheimer’s disease risk reduction.

An attractive smile is essential to overall wellness. Brushing, flossing and limiting sugary snacks and beverages are effective means of protecting teeth and gums – while visiting the dentist for regular professional cleanings is equally crucial. These simple practices can help prevent costly dental procedures and long-term health problems. The Australian government provides public dental services for people from low income families who are socially disadvantaged, such as homeless persons receiving income support payments or those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who experience difficulty accessing healthcare services (COAG 2015).

Tooth decay

Tooth decay is an often-pervasive condition that begins as small chalky areas on the tooth surface (smooth surface caries) and eventually progresses to become an open cavity in its center (cavity). Unfortunately, tooth decay has long-term health repercussions, including cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes, respiratory issues and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Tooth decay can be painful and lead to further dental complications, including tooth loss and gum disease. It may also have an adverse impact on quality of life by disrupting chewing and eating patterns – negatively affecting nutrition in turn. People suffering from poor oral health are also more likely to miss work or school due to dental issues, leading to missed productivity and economic losses.

Teeth decay bacteria produce acid that erodes enamel and dentin of teeth, eventually leading to cavities and the need for fillings. If left untreated, decay may spread further inside a tooth where nerves and blood vessels reside; ultimately killing off its host and necessitating removal.

Tooth decay typically starts in your back teeth – particularly your molars and premolars. These teeth feature deep grooves, pits and crannies which trap food debris that’s difficult to brush away. Other contributing factors to tooth decay include reduced saliva flow which increases your risk of tooth decay; certain medications, like antidepressants, can decrease salivation; dehydration can make the mouth dry and therefore more susceptible to decay;

Regular dental visits, proper brushing and flossing habits, as well as restricting sugary and acidic food can all help protect against tooth decay. Fluoride toothpaste will strengthen and protect against further tooth decay while interdental brushes or floss should reach all spaces between teeth to reach all spaces between them. It’s also wise to visit your dentist on an annual basis as they will detect issues before they become serious, providing valuable advice on improving dental hygiene routine.

Gum disease

At the early stages of gum disease, dental plaque forms a sticky substance which irritates and inflames gum tissues – this condition is known as gingivitis and it’s easily identifiable: gums appear reddened, swollen or tender to touch when brushing their teeth; they may even bleed during tooth brushing! To detect gingivitis you’ll see symptoms like red, swollen and tender gums which bleed when tooth-brushing! Gingivitis can be reversed through regular professional dental cleaning by your dentist or hygienist to remove plaque, bacteria and hardened tartar (calculus). As gum disease progresses into periodontitis, pockets form between gum tissue and teeth that pull away, creating spaces known as pockets. Food debris, bacteria and plaque build-up in these pockets causes infection and bone loss, ultimately weakening jawbone structure to such an extent that teeth become loose enough for extraction. At this point, gum disease must be managed or it will continue to progress into more advanced stages requiring extraction procedures to keep them in check.

Scientists are uncovering more connections between oral health and overall well-being. According to research conducted, bacteria associated with gum disease can contribute to serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes, strokes, dementia and pregnancy complications among others.

Scientists don’t completely understand how gum disease connects to other aspects of health, but chronic inflammation caused by this condition likely has a wide-reaching impact. When bacteria from your gums travel through your bloodstream and trigger an immune response that causes swelling or increases chances of heart attack or stroke, scientists suspect.

Untreated gum disease increases your risk of osteoporosis, a condition in which bones begin to crumble and become fragile. Research has linked osteoporosis with ageing, hormones, calcium deficiency and inflammation; though no direct link has been proven between gum disease and osteoporosis yet; scientists are exploring how inflammation in your mouth could impact bone homeostasis throughout your body.

Preventing gum disease requires daily brushing and flossing as well as regular dental check-ups with your dentist, who may recommend special toothpastes and toothbrushes designed to fight gum disease as well as professional removal of plaque and tartar from the teeth.

Oral cancer

Poor oral health can have devastating repercussions for overall wellness. Luckily, many of these conditions are preventable with regular dental care and healthy eating habits; particularly tooth decay, gum disease and bone loss. Unfortunately, however, people in need of such assistance often face barriers which prevent them from receiving this care.

Malnutrition can also be the result of poor oral health. People suffering from missing or painful teeth may find it hard to chew or swallow food properly, leading them to consume fewer meals with lower nutritional value and thus leading to both overnutrition and under-nutrition, causing negative health impacts in various ways.

Oral cancer is a devastating disease with lasting consequences, yet estimates indicate that two-thirds of oral cancer cases could be prevented by regular screening and maintaining good dental hygiene practices. Furthermore, tobacco and excessive alcohol use should also be reduced while eating more fruits and vegetables has been associated with reduced risks of oral cancer.

Oral cancer risk factors include age (most cases occur among those over 45), genetics, smoking, excessive sun exposure and poor nutrition. Sexual activity often increases risk; HPV virus transmission poses additional threats.

Studies have uncovered strong ties between oral health and overall wellbeing. When oral bacteria enters the bloodstream, it can cause inflammation or infections elsewhere in the body – even heart diseases and respiratory illnesses have been associated with its presence.

To achieve optimal oral health, proper brushing and flossing techniques, visiting a dentist for regular cleanings, eating nutritiously and exercising are the keys. Unfortunately, however, not everyone has access to such health services and tools necessary for good oral care, making it crucial for policymakers and healthcare providers alike to invest in solutions such as community water fluoridation or school sealant programs that promote oral wellbeing for all.