Connecting Oral Health & Physical Health
It’s no secret that we at Cornerstone Family Dentistry are big proponents of good oral health. Practicing good oral hygiene like brushing and flossing your teeth and visiting your dentist for regular checkups will ensure your mouth is healthy and your smile is bright. However, did you know that having good oral health can also help your physical health? Everyone has bacteria in their mouths. In fact, the National Institutes of Health says that there are over 700 species of bacteria on our teeth, tongue, and gums. Many of these bacteria are actually good, but others are bad and can be harmful to both our oral and physical health. Our mouths are the entry point to our digestive and respiratory tracts, so without proper oral hygiene, these bad bacteria can cause serious disease.
Endocarditis is a life-threatening disease that happens when there is inflammation around the inner lining of the heart muscle. This inflammation is typically caused by bacteria that spreads throughout the bloodstream, and that bacteria can come from the mouth. Another illness that can be caused from bad bacteria in the mouth is pneumonia. A serious infection in the lungs, pneumonia can be contracted when certain bacteria in your mouth are pulled into the lungs.
A study came out in 2017 by the National Library of Medicine that revealed a startling link between obesity and periodontal disease. The study found that overweight and obese individuals were twice as likely to develop periodontal disease, while individuals with severe obesity were three times as likely to develop periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, and if left untreated can turn into periodontitis, a very serious infection that can cause permanent damage to the gums and jawbone.
While experts are still trying to figure out all the reasons why obesity and periodontal disease are connected, they do have some hypotheses. Fat cells in the body tend to produce an inflammation response in the body, which can have a negative impact on the immune system and make the body more vulnerable to all types of diseases, including periodontal disease. Experts also often see a link in the overconsumption of sugar between obesity and periodontal disease.
While poor oral hygiene may contribute to certain conditions, there are some physical conditions that can have a negative effect on your oral health. People with diabetes struggle with high blood sugar, which weakens white blood cells and make it harder to fight off infections, including infections that occur in the mouth. In addition, high blood sugar means high levels of sugar in the saliva, which can cause plaque to quickly build up on the teeth and cause cavities and gum disease. Osteoporosis is another condition that can cause problems in the mouth. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become weak and brittle, which can sometimes affect the jawbone and result in tooth loss.
Whether you’re struggling with your physical health because of poor oral health, or you have a condition that is causing problems in your mouth, the best course of action is to visit your dentist regularly. We at Cornerstone Family Dentistry would love to help you with any problems you’re having and help ensure you have the healthiest smile possible!