We all know that healthy teeth are essential for a beautiful smile. Also, we often hear from our dentists that if we want to enjoy fresh, minty breaths, we must take good care of our oral hygiene. But what most people don’t know is that our physical health and well-being are directly linked to our oral hygiene status – the so-called oral-systemic link or the tooth and body connection.
So, what is the oral-systemic link, and how does it affect one’s health and quality of life? Continue reading this blog to learn more.
Why Is Oral Health Connected To Overall Health?
Many people think our teeth are only crucial for helping us eat and look beautiful. Unfortunately, this is not true. The fact is that the mouth is a gateway to the entire body. If the mouth is diseased, the infection or disease can travel through it to other body organs causing systemic illnesses. More importantly, it is a two-way connection; an infection in other body organs and systems can also affect the oral cavity.
What Conditions Can Be Linked To Oral Health?
The most common oral health connection that has a two-way connection with our systemic health is gum disease. Did you know that harmful bacteria inside plaque and tartar deposits can travel through the bloodstream or the food we eat to other body organs and cause severe, even life-threatening illnesses? For example, disease-causing bacteria can promote plaque deposition inside blood vessels and increase teh risk of cardiac arrest. Furthermore, these bacteria can cause inflammation of the prosthetic valves inside the heart.
Disease-causing bacteria can also enter the respiratory system and cause systemic illnesses. Besides, research has shown that people with poor gum health also have poor blood sugar control. In addition, harmful bacteria in the oral cavity can travel through the bloodstream to the brain and aggravate neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s. Finally, gum disease has also been linked to a higher risk of pre-term, low-weight births.
So, oral health is linked to a variety of systemic health conditions.
How Are Oral Health And Gut Health Related?
When we eat something, it first passes through the mouth and then into the digestive system organs. If there is an underlying disease in the mouth, it can travel through the food or bloodstream to the gut and cause systemic complications. For example, these bacteria alter the gut flora (types of bacteria) and decrease the body’s immune defence systems, exposing it to various diseases.
More importantly, optimal digestion is only possible with healthy teeth and gums. Chewing and digesting food properly is impossible when one has decayed or missing teeth. So, oral health has a direct effect on one’s gut and overall health.
Benefits Does Oral Health Give To Overall Health?
As mentioned earlier, healthy and cavity-free teeth help in optimally digesting food. As a result, the body can generate more energy and boost its immune response. So, the systemic benefit of maintaining good oral hygiene is excellent physical health and improved quality of life.
Are Oral Health And Heart Health Associated?
According to the British Heart Foundation, there is a direct link between poor oral health and heart disease. The harmful bacteria in the gums can enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart and circulatory system. These bacteria promote inflammation inside the heart’s vessels and cause plaque adherence. As a result, the heart’s blood flow is reduced, and there is an increased risk of cardiac arrest. Furthermore, if someone has artificial heart valves, harmful bacteria can adhere to them and cause inflammation. People with poor gum health are at a higher risk of developing heart-related disorders.
How Does Diabetes Affect The Dental Health Of A Person?
According to Diabetes UK, there is a direct, two-way connection between gum health and diabetes. People with poor gum health tend to have poor blood sugar control. Similarly, people with poor blood sugar control are at a higher risk of developing gum disease. This is because gum disease and high blood sugar levels lower the body’s immune response and increase the risk of oral and systemic diseases.
Do Bad Teeth Cause Diabetes And Strokes?
Yes, bad teeth and gums can cause strokes and diabetes. The disease-causing bacteria in the gums and decayed teeth can enter other body systems and cause systemic illnesses. That is why dentists recommend that one should maintain optimal oral hygiene to reduce the risk of systemic diseases due to poor oral hygiene.
How To Maintain Your Oral Health In Diabetes?
If someone has diabetes, they should take extra care of their oral health. How? Through regular brushing twice a day and flossing at least once daily. This helps prevent plaque and tartar formation in the teeth, which are the building blocks for gum disease. Furthermore, diabetic individuals should also visit their dentist regularly so that any underlying issue can be detected and treated timely before it can cause permanent damage or affect one’s physical health.
How Are Teeth Related To Heart Disease?
As mentioned earlier, harmful bacteria in the oral cavity travel to other body organs and cause systemic complications. If these bacteria enter the heart or its vessels, they can cause cardiac issues, such as cardiac arrest and inflammation of the prosthetic heart valves.
Our teeth help us chew and enjoy a beautiful smile. However, they also help us maintain good physical health and enjoy an active lifestyle. If you would like to learn more about your health, Munro Hall Clinic is the best place for you. So, plan your next visit with us and let us take good care of your entire family’s oral and physical health. Book an appointment today.
Last Updated: August 26, 2023