Good oral health is key to overall health. If you don’t believe us, just try spelling overall without o-r-a-l. It can’t be done! But all kidding aside, the link between oral hygiene and general well-being is no laughing matter. Studies have proven a link between declining dental health and the development of cardiovascular, respiratory, and mental health conditions. So break out your brush and fetch your floss, because these are some of the ways your daily dental care impacts your overall health.
Help Your Heart
We know the popular ‘80s song Harden My Heart wasn’t written about the millions of bacteria inhabiting a human mouth, but it would certainly fit. You may be aware that the build-up of bacteria opens the door for tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral infections, but its greatest impact will hit you right in the ticker. Those chronic oral conditions lead to a weakening of the mouth’s natural defenses that prevent harmful bacteria from entering the bloodstream. Once in the blood, it eventually reaches the heart, where it hardens and clogs arteries. As the flow of blood is reduced or even blocked, the risk of heart attack or stroke greatly increases. Another serious condition, endocarditis, may result from the bacteria attaching to and inflaming the heart’s inner lining.
Watch What You Breathe
It is said that you are what you eat, but it also seems you are what you breathe. When poor dental hygiene leads to a mouth full of bacteria, those microbes – including the harmful ones – can be inhaled into your lungs. It then may bring about various respiratory conditions and infections, including pneumonia.
Mind Your Mouth
There is a bit of a Catch-22 when it comes to the link between oral health and mental health. Individuals suffering from severe mental illness are more likely to have dental problems, while pre-existing dental conditions may lead to the development of mental health problems. Common concerns like bad breath and crooked, dirty, or damaged teeth may affect an individual’s physical appearance and self-esteem. Sometimes this leads to depression or social anxiety, and the stress caused from that may bring about even more oral health issues, like grinding teeth, dry mouth, or canker and cold sores. Furthermore, research is beginning to show a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies also have revealed a possible link between poor oral health and Osteoporosis, pregnancy issues, and diabetic complications. When you weigh the severity of these health problems, brushing twice a day and flossing daily doesn’t seem like too much of a trouble, does it? When planning out your dental hygiene routine, don’t forget the regular visits to the dentist. There’s no substitute for a proper teeth cleaning, and a dental professional also will be able to identify and treat any issues that may develop. We’re always accepting new patients at Ellicott Mills Dental, so call our office today to start your journey to improved oral – and overall – health.