Brush Your Teeth: Nine Diseases That May Be Connected With Poor Oral Health

For decades, the relationship between oral health and overall wellness has been a topic of intense observation by scientific experts. Doctors and scientists have noticed that, in many cases, people with gum disease and cavities are more likely to also develop other diseases, such as heart disease. It has been proven that poor dental health can have a negative impact on your overall health.

Dentists around the country and the world are warning their patients not to downplay their oral health. If you have been avoiding finding a dentist Rock Hill, SC, or any other nearby cities, today is the day to make that call.

Here are some of the diseases that have been connected with poor oral health:

Cardiovascular Disease

There is a correlation between poor oral health, such as gingivitis and cavities, and cardiovascular disease. It is thought that the bacteria and inflammation in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and contribute to plaque development in your arteries. Oral bacteria have been found in the bloodstream in areas far away from the mouth. However, those who think this theory may not hold true cite the fact that antibiotic treatment doesn’t seem to lessen the risk of cardiovascular problems.

Other experts think that the correlation has more to do with the general poor health and inflammation that often accompanies poor oral health, or that there is no connection at all and the correlation is just that- an association, without any cause directly related to the mouth.

Respiratory Infections

There is evidence of a connection or association between poor oral health and respiratory infections or diseases. The exact nature or cause of this connection has been debated, but like many other diseases, it appears that there is a correlation.

Inhaling small droplets from a person’s mouth that contain bacteria from oral infections may lead to respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, in susceptible people. This includes people who already have respiratory weakness or inflammation, such as those with asthma or chronic bronchitis.

It is also thought that the whole-body inflammation response that accompanies an oral infection might cause irritation and increased inflammation in the respiratory system in those already-susceptible people.  

Diabetes

Oral health problems and diabetes can have negative effects on others. Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum disease and tooth decay.

Uncontrolled high blood sugar can contribute to mouth problems like cavities and gingivitis because when the level of sugar in the blood is high, the level of sugar in the saliva is also high. Sugar in the saliva can contribute to cavities and decay. Some of the effects of diabetes, such as a dry mouth and low white blood cell count, can also increase the risk of oral problems.

On the other hand, poor oral health can make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes, the inflammatory response of the body to an infection, such as gum disease, can be different than it is in people without diabetes.

Pregnancy Complications

It is also proven with scientific research and studies that oral health concerns, such as gingivitis, are connected with pregnancy complications. Women who are pregnant very commonly develop gingivitis or periodontitis. In fact, nearly three-quarters of pregnant women will have some level of gum disease. Pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to have preterm or low-birth-weight babies

In addition, women who have untreated cavities during pregnancy are much more likely to have young children who develop cavities. The bacteria from cavities can easily pass from mother to child and can contribute to oral problems in children who otherwise are at low risk for cavities, such as those who have their teeth brushed properly, don’t take a bottle to bed, and avoid fizzy beverages.

Dementia

Poor oral health can also contribute to a variety of unexpected diseases. Recently, a study found that people with poor oral health may be at a higher risk for developing dementia. It is thought that one of the kinds of bacteria that grows in the mouth can travel to the brain, where it can begin destroying nerve cells.

Over time, this can contribute to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. When researchers searched for the bacteria in the brains of people who died of dementia, this bacteria was found in many of them.

Osteoporosis

People with osteoporosis may have a higher risk of tooth loss due to the disease’s effect on the jawbone. For these people, it is important to maintain oral health and protect the teeth and gums from infection and decay.

Maintaining the health of the bones is key to preventing tooth loss. Medication and health measures that help protect the bones in people with osteoporosis, including supplements like calcium and vitamin D, can also help protect the teeth. 

Mental Health

There is a strong connection between mental health and physical health, and it is well established that mental health patients are more likely to develop physical health concerns when compared with others. This is also true as it applies to oral health, which may even be a greater concern than other physical health problems.

People with mental health struggles such as depression and anxiety are likely to suffer periods where physical hygiene is difficult and during these times oral health may be neglected. They are also likely to avoid dental visits if they have anxieties or fears about pain or dentists. 

Other oral diseases

Poor oral health can lead to other oral diseases such as tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and oral cancer. Oral problems in one area, such as an untreated cavity, can quickly spread as the bacteria from the cavity proliferates. The accumulation of this bad bacteria can cause other cavities and gum disease to form more quickly than it would otherwise, even in mouths that are generally well-maintained.

Cancer

Studies have also shown that there may be a connection between poor oral health and a cancer-causing virus. People with poor oral health are slightly more likely to have human papillomavirus (HPV) found in their bodies than those with excellent health.

Cancer patients are likely to develop oral health problems such as gingivitis and other infections. Part of the reason for this is that cancer treatments often weaken the immune system, creating an atmosphere in the mouth where bacteria can thrive.

Cancer treatments can also create side effects such as a dry mouth and frequent vomiting that can contribute to oral concerns. In addition, people who are very ill often find daily hygiene a struggle and are likely to skip things like brushing their teeth on days when they feel very sick.

If oral health issues cause inflammation and infection, it can delay or stop cancer treatments, so it is very important for people with cancer (and those who are caring for them) to maintain careful oral health routines.

But it is yet to discover if poor oral health is causing the virus to be in the body, or if other things, such as poor health in general, may be contributing to both the virus’ occurrence and the oral health problems.

Conclusion

It is essential to maintain good oral hygiene. Not only are people with healthy mouths less likely to experience pain and suffering, tooth loss, and embarrassment, but they are also more likely to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle.

Whether the connection between other diseases and oral health concerns is a causation or a correlation, maintaining a healthy mouth, teeth, and gums is an important part of having a happy, healthy, pain-free life.

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