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How Your Oral Cavity Links to Other Health Conditions

 

Your mouth says a lot.

 

And no, we don’t mean like Chatty Cathy next door does.

 

Your oral health is more important than you might think. It can indicate and give clues about your overall health.

 

Problems you have in your oral cavity can actually affect the rest of your body in many ways.

 

Learn about how your oral cavity links to other health conditions and your general health.

 

From Oral Health to Overall Health

 

Our mouths can contain more than 6 billion bacteria. In other words, it’s packed with bacteria.

 

Though some of this is good bacteria and actually helps prevent disease, some can cause serious illness. Think about it this way: you mouth is a gateway to the digestion and respiratory regions of your body for intrusive bacteria to infiltrate.

 

Now the body’s natural defenses paired with a good oral health routine, keeps bacteria in check. But without daily brushing and flossing, the bacteria can become infectious. This can result to gum disease, tooth loss and eventual tooth decay.

 

Severe gum disease called periodontitis has been linked to several diseases including esophageal cancer, according to a decade long study.

 

But it goes both ways too. What you put into your body is just as important. Your nutrition and diet is known to be a sign and cause of enamel erosion.

 

One thing that some people don’t always consider is the importance of saliva. Saliva is the main method of washing away food and neutralizing the oral cavity of acids while also protecting microbes that can lead to disease.

 

Medications such as antihistamines, painkillers and antidepressants can sometimes reduce the flow of saliva. This in turn prevents the saliva from removing the harmful bacteria.

 

Conditions That Can be Linked to Oral Health

 

So what specific conditions can be linked to the health of your oral cavity?

 

Well your oral health can contribute to the following conditions:

 

  • Endocarditis

    This is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers. When bacteria from another part of your body, such as your mouth, enters your bloodstream, eventually reaching the heart and attaches to areas within your heart. Typically, the areas that the bacteria attaches to are damaged already.

    Without treatment quickly, endocarditis can lead to life-threatening complications as it damages and even destroys the valves of your heart.

  • Cardiovascular disease

    Cardiovascular disease often is referring to the chamber of the heart that becomes narrowed or blocked blood vessels. This can lead to chest pain, stroke or a heart attack.

    It is not understood why or how cardiovascular disease is connected to oral health but research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke could be linked to the inflammation caused by oral bacteria

  • Pregnancy complications

    Your hormones undergo a lot of change throughout the pregnancy, making you more at risk for gum and bone disease.

    Not only that but periodontitis has been linked to low birth weight and premature birth.

  • Pneumonia

    Pneumonia is a very serious infection found in one or both of the lungs. It is caused by bacteria that enters into the lungs that causes inflammation in the air sacs within your lungs called the alveoli. Breathing is difficult because the alveoli fill with fluid.

The bacteria that enters through the mouth can be breathed into the lungs and cause pneumonia.

 

Conditions that might affect your oral health include:

  • Diabetes

    Gum disease is found more often and more severely in those who have diabetes. Diabetes reduces the resistance your body has towards infections which also means your gums are at risk.

  • HIV/AIDS

    It is common for people with HIV/AIDS to have pain within the mouth such as mucosal lesions and other oral problems.

  • Osteoporosis

    Osteoporosis is a bone disease that results in weakened bones that are brittle and break easily. Depending on the severity, bones may break from a fall or from as little as sneezing.

From an oral standpoint, this would affect the bone structure of your mouth as well. Periodontal bone loss and tooth loss as well as damage to the bones of the jaw are common with severe cases.

 

Some other conditions linked to oral health includes eating disorders, arthritis, certain cancers and Sjogren’s syndrome.

 

How Can You Protect Yourself?

 

We’ll start with your oral health.

 

It’s important to take care of your oral health because it’s linked to so many other parts of the body and can have some serious effects.

 

Practice good oral hygiene! But what does that look like?

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it's important to contact your dentist or health care professional as soon as possible.

 

When you invest time and care into your oral health, your overall health benefits too.

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