When you consider the importance of your oral health, you may think this is mainly about avoiding conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease. However, taking good care of your teeth and gums can also help to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
We’re exploring the connection between oral health and your general health, as well as how good oral hygiene practices can help reduce your risk of developing other health conditions.
The health warning signs in your mouth
A look inside your mouth - or a professional analysis of your saliva - can reveal more than you might think about your overall health.
Certain conditions in your mouth can serve as early warning signs for systemic diseases (diseases that affect your entire body rather than just one part), which your doctor will be able to identify.
This includes conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disease, which may cause mouth lesions or other oral health problems in their early stages. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90% of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.
Meanwhile, the saliva in your mouth can be tested to help detect a variety of substances relating to other health conditions, including:
- Cortisol levels to assess stress responses in newborn children.
- Protein fragments to monitor bone loss in people prone to osteoporosis.
- Certain cancer markers.
How poor oral hygiene can lead to mouth and gum infections
Regular brushing and flossing helps to keep teeth clean and avoid plaque build-up. If plaque accumulates along the gum line, this can create an environment for bacteria to develop in the space between your gums and teeth, causing a condition called gingivitis.
If gingivitis remains untreated, it can lead to a more serious gum infection called periodontitis, which, in turn, can develop into the most severe form of gum infection known as trench mouth (acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis).
The impact of poor oral health on overall health
A person suffering from severe oral health problems may experience additional health problems as a result of their condition.
For example, if they find it difficult to chew and swallow food, their bodies may not receive the nutrition they need for optimal health. As well as malnutrition, this can also cause existing health conditions to become worse.
In addition to affecting your physical health, oral health problems and other orthodontic issues can affect mental wellbeing, with the potential to cause feelings of low self-esteem and social anxiety.
This effect on a person’s mental state can have a negative impact on social development in children, as well as leading to reduced participation in activities at school, work, or in social settings.
How can you improve your oral health?
Taking care of your teeth and gums by sticking to a good oral hygiene routine is crucial to both your oral health and your overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Here are some simple tips on how to keep your teeth and gums healthy:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss once a day using dental floss to clean between your teeth.
- Ensure you drink enough water (aim for two litres per day).
- Reduce your consumption of sugary and acidic food and drinks.
- Visit your dentist for a regular check-up and clean.
Your dentist can assess your oral health, advise on treatment for existing conditions, and discuss any concerns you may have about your teeth and gums. Book online today with a National Dental Care dentist today to stay on track with your oral health.