Is My Oral Health linked to my overall health?
Although the exact linkages are unclear, an increasing amount of research is pointing to links between how healthy your mouth is and how healthy the rest of your body is. One theory indicates that there is a linked inflammatory response – the inflammatory response to bacteria in the mouth is gum disease, while many of the overall health problems linked to poor oral health (such as early birth/low birth weight, diabetes, and heart disease) are linked to other inflammatory responses in the body.
Oral Health and Pregnancy:
During pregnancy, hormonal changes affect the mouth, leading to a higher than normal buildup of bacteria and an increased risk of gum disease. Unfortunately, in recent studies gum disease in pregnant woman has also been shown to lead to low birth weight babies. Gum disease has also been linked to premature birth – in one study, pregnant women with gum disease were 7 times more likely to undergo an early birth, worse than women who both smoked and drank.
Oral Health and Diabetes:
In this case, the health of your overall body can affect your mouth: children with diabetes have been shown to begin developing signs of gum disease earlier than their non-diabetic peers, and have an overall risk of developing gum disease that is twice as high as children without diabetes.
Oral Health and Heart Disease:
Starting about a decade ago, a large array of studies determined that gum disease in the mouth leads to an increased bacterial count in the bloodstream. This higher bacterial count has been linked to blood clots and heart disease, which translates to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Oral Health and Other Diseases:
Although the links are not as well researched, there is some evidence that poor oral hygiene is associated with osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and immune system disorders.
How can I have great Oral Health?
Gum disease is thought to be the major cause of mouth-related problems with your general health. We tell our Weston area patients (both kids and adults) that good oral hygiene through brushing and flossing is the best way to remove plaque and cut down on bacteria in the mouth. Regular visits to our Weston dental office are also important, as we can remove tartar (hardened plaque not removed by brushing or flossing), and evaluate your oral health and assign special treatment to keep you in great oral health.