Oral Care and Whole Body Health
Most people know that oral care is key to keeping our mouths healthy. But it might surprise you to know that your oral health provides clues about your overall health.
After all, the mouth is the gateway to the rest of our body, and how we treat our gums and teeth could have enduring effects.
Recently we have seen heightened interest in the medical field in establishing possible links between oral health and body health. Physicians are adopting a holistic approach to patient care upon establishing links between oral health and certain diseases.
The Link between Oral Health and Body Wellness
“There is no health without oral health.” Like other areas of your body, the mouth contains bacteria, most of which are harmless. However, the mouth also serves as an entry point to the respiratory and digestive tracts, and some bacteria can cause disease in other parts of the body.
Typically, your body’s natural defenses and good oral health practices such as flossing and brushing can keep bacteria in check. However, the failure to maintain proper oral hygiene could increase bacteria levels, leading to oral infections, gum disease, and tooth decay.
Bacteria and immune responses
Your mouth offers the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive because it’s moist with numerous nutrients on which bacteria flourish. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through diseased gums or areas with missing or damaged teeth. This triggers an immune response in your body where your liver releases a C-reactive protein (CRP). Normally, this is a harmless response to inflammation. However, if the release constantly occurs, it could cause a chain reaction, resulting in other medical conditions.
For instance, physicians have established a link between elevated CRP levels in the bloodstream and an increased likelihood of a heart attack. Scientists have also found a link between severe gum disease and body infection.
Healthy mouth, healthy body, healthy mind
Research cites oral health as one of the top indicators of overall health alongside various indicators, including health care access and good nutrition. Furthermore, maintaining good oral health has a link to mental wellness aspects such as increased self-esteem and happiness.
For this reason, we recommend regular dental visits at Hilltop Dental and proper oral hygiene to prevent serious gum and tooth problems while improving overall health. Since healthcare systems have recognized the importance of providing treatment from a whole-body perspective, many facilities integrate dental experts into treatment plans.
The importance of good nutrition in oral health
Diet and nutrition affect the health of the tissues in the mouth, and the health of the mouth affects nutrients consumed. Poor nutrition combined with poor dental care can yield dental-related diseases, including gum disease and tooth decay, which can affect oral health.
Although these diseases are serious on their own, they can equally lead to other illnesses. For instance, poor dental health is associated with heart disease and diabetes. That’s where the need for good nutrition comes in.
The dental professionals at Hilltop Dental can help patients improve their oral health while simultaneously helping them to address their holistic needs. By incorporating oral healthcare with proper nutrition, dentists can better treat existing dental issues and prevent the development of future issues.
Health Conditions Associated with Oral Health
Healthy teeth won’t merely make you look and feel better. As we’ve seen, your dental health has an intrinsic link to the health of other body systems.
Do you know that a healthy mouth contains up to 600 bacteria species on average? An unhealthy one could easily accommodate up to twice that figure, including more damaging strains, considerably increasing the likelihood of moving from the mouth to other parts of the body, creating diseases. Some of the diseases you may be at risk of contracting if periodontal diseases remain untreated include:
This infection impacts the heart’s inner lining. Usually, it arises when bacteria or germs from a different part of the body, such as the mouth, spread through the bloodstream and join particular areas in the heart.
The relationship between periodontitis and diabetes reveals a strong link between the body and mouth. Inflammation that begins in the mouth weakens the body’s capacity to regulate blood sugar. Therefore, diabetic patients have difficulty processing sugar because of the lack of insulin, the hormone responsible for converting sugar into energy.
Periodontal disease complicates diabetes further since the inflammation weakens the body’s capacity to use insulin. Some diabetic patients experience gum disease more frequently and may lose some teeth. The American Diabetes Association recommends seeing your dentist at least twice a year. Adopting better oral hygiene practices and scheduling regular dental visits at Hilltop Dental can help prevent periodontal illness and the development of other medical complications.
Bacteria traveling from the mouth down the throat and into the lungs might cause pneumonia. Also, inhaling bacteria from infected gums could increase the risk of lung infection.
Weakening of the jawbone and teeth can signify the development of osteoporosis. Some medications related to the treatment of osteoporosis also have a likelihood of triggering bone loss.
What does it mean to have a healthy mouth?
The mouth, or oral cavity, starts from the lips to the throat. Well-functioning teeth and a healthy mouth are crucial at all life stages because they support functions such as eating, speaking, and breathing.
A healthy mouth comprises moist, pain-free, and odor-free tissues. A healthy mouth isn’t merely about the teeth. It also includes the gums (gingival tissue) and supporting bone, collectively called the periodontium.
It’s worth noting that gums might differ in color and pattern in individuals. Healthy gums are firm, not swollen or red, and don’t bleed when flossed or brushed.
A healthy mouth doesn’t have untreated cavities, nor does it have signs of ulcers, lumps, or unusual color beneath the cheeks or tongue. Your teeth shouldn’t be wiggly and shouldn’t hurt during eating, drinking, or brushing. Schedule an appointment at Hilltop Dental if you’re experiencing any of these issues.
Factors of poor oral hygiene
“Poor oral hygiene” describes numerous risk factors for dental issues. Most dental problems are preventable, so there is an element of patient responsibility in cases of poor oral hygiene or health. The manifestation of poor oral health occurs in various forms, ranging from swollen or bleeding gums to toothaches. Signs of poor oral health include:
If you experience tooth pain, don’t ignore it. There’s a high likelihood you’ll still experience persisting pain despite improving the quality or frequency of your cleanings. Most often, tooth pain is the result of considerable tooth decay.
Swollen or bleeding gums
Swelling, bleeding, or changes in your gum color may indicate poor oral health. A visit to Hilltop Dental will reveal whether you’re in the initial phases of gum disease. Gum treatment will help prevent the progression of the disease to the point of receding gums and unstable teeth.
Changes in your tongue’s color or texture can indicate poor hygiene or changing oral health. You want to adopt the habit of cleaning your tongue every night to address this issue using a toothbrush or a tongue scraper. If you don’t observe changes, we recommend you come to see us at Hilltop Dental.
What is the impact of poor oral care?
Poor dental or oral care affects the mouth and other body parts. Some of the consequences of neglecting oral care include:
Risk for stroke and heart disease
Individuals with some periodontal diseases face twice the likelihood of exhibiting heart disease caused by bacteria and plaque that penetrate the body via the gums. This bacterium can clog arteries, increasing the likelihood of a serious heart attack. Furthermore, the blockage can arise in the blood vessel responsible for sending blood to the brain, increasing the likelihood of a stroke. Researchers have shown that oral bacteria are involved in several kinds of stroke, including brain hemorrhages and strokes that can lead to dementia.
If you have periodontal disease, bacteria can potentially travel into the bloodstream and lungs, where it can affect the respiratory system directly. This places you at a greater risk of experiencing chronic pneumonia or acute bronchitis.
Reasons to maintain regular oral care
Scheduling regular dental exams at Hilltop Dental doesn’t just help sustain healthy gums and teeth. Your dentist can also watch out for developments that might result in future health issues. Let your dentist at Hilltop Dental know about any oral health changes, including any chronic conditions or recent illnesses, even if they don’t seem related to your mouth.
You should also give your dentist a list of medications you’re currently taking, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Regular oral care has proven beneficial to attaining and sustaining overall emotional and physical wellbeing throughout life. Some of the benefits associated with oral care include:
Your mouth acts as the gateway to your body’s internal parts while serving as a vantage point for identifying early signs of systemic illnesses. It’s worth noting that systemic illnesses frequently begin with dental issues, such as gum infections or mouth lesions.
Also, periodontal disease heightens inflammation, which might impact numerous body parts, including artery inflammation. Besides cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, other health complications generated by poor oral health include sepsis and infective endocarditis.
Tooth loss prevention
Tooth loss, a common dental issue for adults and children, arises mostly due to poor oral care. In particular, plaque accumulation might lead to gum infection or severe tooth cavities, consequently causing tooth loss.
While proper and regular flossing and brushing can help decrease plaque buildup, they aren’t sufficient to ensure your oral hygiene is in excellent shape. We recommend you schedule expert dental cleaning twice a year at Hilltop Dental to ensure that the difficult-to-reach gum lines and teeth are tartar and plaque-free.
See your dentist regularly
Oral hygiene and health might not be something most of us think about regularly. However, we should! Neglecting your oral care could place you at serious risk for severe conditions that can sometimes be fatal. Thankfully, the dental professionals at Hilltop Dental offer expert advice and information on the link between oral care and whole body care.