How is my Oral Health Linked to my Overall Health?

preventing cavities with flossing

Not taking good care of your oral health can cause cavities, bad breath and an unpleasing smile. Many patients may think missing a visit or two is acceptable as long as they have no pain. All of these reasons make a good case for taking excellent care of your mouth, but what you may not have considered is that good oral care also impacts your overall health. Studies have shown that periodontal disease is linked with cardiovascular disease, stroke, bacterial pneumonia and can also increase risks of preterm birth and low birth weight in pregnant women.

Chronic inflammation from periodontitis has been shown to cause cardiovascular issues such as stroke, blockages in the arteries and heart disease. Many diabetics develop periodontal problems and researchers have found that this can cause issues with controlling blood sugar. In fact, researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that people with gum disease were twice as likely as others to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.

Even without considering the risk of major diseases, any inflammation introduced to the body can be damaging. Inflammation is a breeding ground for all types of chronic conditions, so managing the various ways it can enter your system is critical to your health as your body ages. Regular brushing and flossing removes bacteria in smaller amounts so that it does not have the opportunity to enter your bloodstream. If it does, your body is well equipped to handle small amounts of bacteria, but may not fare as well with large amounts flushed into the system at one time.

A recent study by peer-reviewed BaleDoneen revealed that patients with periodontal disease are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from heart attacks than those with healthy gums.The study also produced significant research that shows the benefits of good oral care:

  • Flossing – Those who floss regularly have been shown to have a 30% lower death rate than those who have never flossed
  • Nighttime Brushing – Never brushing at night raises mortality risk by 25% versus nightly brushing. Your mouth produces less saliva to wash your teeth and gums when you’re sleeping, so it’s particularly crucial to floss and brush thoroughly before bed
  • Regular Dental Visits – People who visit the dentist 2 or more times per year have a 50% lower mortality rate than those who hadn’t seen a dentist in 1 year

On the flipside, your mouth health also gives important clues into your overall health. Systemic diseases (those that affect the whole body) such as Diabetes, AIDS/HIV and Sjogren’s syndrome can often show up first as oral problems. Dentists have discovered clues in the mouth that have led to diagnosis of high blood pressure, anemia and heart conditions, among many others.

As you can see, the health of your mouth is critical to your overall health. Your mouth can give crucial clues as to how your body is doing and what’s happening in your mouth can affect other areas of your body, making it one of the most important relationships in managing your physical wellbeing. Staying on top of regular cleaning and maintenance and correcting any issues that may arise requires a great relationship with a dental team you can trust.

At Ambiance Dental, we take your trust, and the oral health of our patients, very seriously. We want to support you in living and aging well so you can enjoy life to the fullest. Book an appointment to get to know our wonderful dental care team today!