Good oral healthcare is integral to your physical health. Poor oral health can predispose you to a number of other general health issues.
Most bacteria in the mouth are harmless but some may cause disease. These bacteria can be kept in control through good oral hygiene habits. However, when the mouth is not taken care of, harmful bacteria can lead to oral infections. A common example of this is gum disease.
When a person has gum disease or periodontitis, inflammation chemicals can travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body like the heart. They can cause blood clots and may lead to heart attack and stroke.
In one study conducted by the Finnish research group, it was found that 59 out of the 75 participants had a strain of viridans streptococci in their brain. Streptococci is bacteria commonly found in the mouth. The participants of the study were all treated for ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain.
Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke, accounting for 88% of all strokes. If you have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or diabetes, and have bleeding gums, you may need immediate treatment.
Health Conditions Linked to Oral Health
The condition of your oral health can impact the rest of your body. It may contribute to the development of certain conditions such as:
Cardiovascular disease. The relationship between the mouth and the cardiovascular system is still being studied. However, research suggests that oral infections may be linked to clogged arteries, stroke, and heart disease.
Diabetes. When an oral infection is left untreated, it can affect the body’s ability to process insulin. On the other hand, if diabetes is not managed properly, the immune system weakens, which increases your risk for gum disease. People with diabetes may be more prone to gum disease.
Pneumonia. Bacteria in the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs and cause infections. In a study published in the Journal of Periodontology, 200 participants had their periodontal health evaluated. It was found that those diagnosed with respiratory disease had poor periodontal health.
HIV/Aids. People with HIV are at an increased risk of common oral health issues, such as dry mouth, cavities, and gingivitis. These conditions can be uncomfortable, painful, and may also lead to other health issues. It becomes tougher to treat the infection as HIV causes the immune system to weaken.
Endocarditis. This rare inflammation affecting the inner lining of the heart muscle or valves is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Those with previous or current heart conditions are more vulnerable to endocarditis. When bacteria in the mouth multiplies and are untreated, the gums may become swollen and bleed. When the gums bleed, bacteria reach the bloodstream and other parts of the body, including the lining of the heart.
Pregnancy and birth complications. While not yet fully understood, research also links pregnancy and oral health. The changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy affect your oral health and increases your risk for periodontitis or gum disease. In periodontitis, the gums and bone supporting the teeth get damaged and may lead to tooth loss. This oral health issue has also been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Maintain Good Oral Care for a Healthier Body
While more studies are needed to fully understand the association between oral health and general health, it’s clear there’s a correlation.
Any discomfort or pain in your mouth can affect how you function daily. We all know how an excruciating toothache can feel debilitating.
Taking proper care of your mouth will not only give you a healthier, more beautiful smile. It also promotes a good quality of life.