Many people view oral hygiene just as a means to prevent cavities, or to avoid developing a painful gum disease. While it’s true that maintaining good oral hygiene can keep your smile bright and healthy, did you know that your oral health isn’t limited to the inside of your mouth? Although taking care of your oral health is an important way to keep your teeth healthy and reduce your need for dental interventions to a minimum, your oral health doesn’t just affect the inside of your mouth.
Having poor oral health can actually contribute to your risk of developing serious health conditions. Gum disease in particular has been shown to pose a health hazard – so make sure to have regular dental checkups so that you can treat any signs of gum disease right away. Conversely, your physical health can also influence your chances of developing problems with your oral health. Having certain diseases can put you more at risk for oral health problems such as gum disease and periodontal bone loss.
Below is a list of health problems related to your general oral health:
Gum disease may contribute to the development of heart conditions, which is why it’s important to pay attention to the health of your gums. Heart problems related to gum disease include:
Endocarditis is a condition that occurs when the inner lining of the heart becomes inflamed. It can occur when bacteria from other parts of your body, such as your mouth, attach to your heart and lead to inflammation. Left untreated, endocarditis can damage your heart and become a dangerous complication.
Cardiovascular diseases are a variety of conditions that affect the blood vessels and heart. Gum disease is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke. As is the case with endocarditis, gum disease may be indirectly creating inflammation in your cardiovascular system, which eventually leads to long term damage.
Of special note for expectant mothers, poor oral health has also been associated with premature birth. Specifically, researchers think that inflammation from a gum disease called “periodontitis” may enter the mother’s bloodstream and interfere with the pregnancy.
Having diabetes can put you at a higher risk of developing gum disease and, in severe cases, eventually losing teeth. If you have diabetes, maintaining good blood glucose control in addition to observing careful oral hygiene practices can help prevent the development of gum disease.
An HIV infection can increase your susceptibility to a variety of oral health complications. Having HIV can increase your risk of developing thrush, which is an infection that develops inside your mouth. Furthermore, experiencing a dry mouth related to HIV can increase your chances of tooth decay. It’s particularly important to monitor your oral health if you have HIV, since bacteria from oral complications can enter the bloodstream and cause further health problems.
Osteoporosis is a condition that results in a loss of bone density. Although most people don’t typically associate osteoporosis with oral health, suffering from osteoporosis can actually lead to a weakened or damaged jawbone. Osteoporosis can also lead to other oral health problems including gum disease and tooth loss.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is an investment not just in your oral health, but in the health of your entire body. Furthermore, it’s essential to schedule regular dental appointments if you have a condition that might increase your chances of developing complications with your oral health.
If you want to learn more about ways to protect your oral health, contact us with any questions!