What Is the Connection Between Your Oral and General Health?

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When it comes to your health, your oral health and overall general health are intimately connected as each can affect the other. What happens to your mouth, teeth and gums can impact your body (and vice versa). So, what’s the connection?

Oral Bacteria

A lot of this has to do with the bacteria in the mouth. While most of them won’t hurt you, some can lead to disease, since your mouth is the gateway to both your stomach and lungs. That’s why you need to practice good daily oral hygiene; it lessens the harmful bacteria that can enter your digestive and respiratory tracts to travel through your bloodstream to other parts of your body, including your organs.

Brushing and flossing help get rid of harmful bacteria, and when this works alongside your body’s defenses, you’re in pretty good shape. However, unmanaged levels of bacteria invite oral infections and leave you dealing with gum disease and tooth decay.

Medications for Health Conditions

If you have problems with your overall health, for example, you have medical conditions that require a prescription, you are vulnerable to their accompanying side effects. A common side effect, such as dry mouth (you can get this from taking diuretics, painkillers, decongestants, antidepressants, etc.), unfortunately, lowers your saliva production. That’s not good, because proper saliva flow helps wash away bacteria and the food particles that can feed them.

Research also shows that if you have advanced gum disease (periodontitis) with its accompanying inflammation, you are vulnerable to other health problems. Conversely, medical illnesses like unmanaged diabetes and HIV/AIDS reduces your body’s ability to fight off infection, making tooth decay and gum disease harder to fight. So what kinds of medical conditions affect the mouth?

Mouth-Body Connection

Heart: When bacteria from infection reach your inner lining of the heart, valves, or chambers attach to it (endocarditis). But that’s not all. Oral bacteria from infected gums can link to heart disease, stroke, and clogged arteries.

Blood Sugar: Diabetes lessens your body’s natural defenses, which means your gum disease can worsen, and patients fighting gum disease can find themselves struggling to control blood sugar levels.

Lungs: If oral bacteria from periodontitis enter your lungs, you can find your self with respiratory disease such as pneumonia.

Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, oral bacteria from severe gum disease can cause premature birth as well as low birth weight in your baby.

Osteoporosis: This disease deteriorates the bones in your body. It can affect your teeth and jawbone material, resulting in loose and, ultimately, lost teeth. This bone-weakening disease can link to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.

What You Can Docute little girl brushing teeth at sink

– Brush twice a day with a cavity-fighting toothpaste and floss every day with a flossing method you enjoy using. You can also use an antibacterial mouthwash to get rid of germs. Remember, keeping your teeth and gums healthy is your number one goal for a healthy smile and body.

– Stick to a healthy, balanced diet to nourish teeth and gums along with your body. By following these tips, you will help strengthen your immune system to fight off diseases.

– Lower the amount of sugar you consume and avoid excessive alcohol or tobacco use in general.

– See our dentist regularly for dental cleanings and exams so we can spot and treat problems early!

And finally, please keep us informed if you are taking any new medications or if you have an original medical condition that could affect your oral health (like diabetes, stroke, or heart disease). Remember, your health is in your hands, and our dental teams are here for you! Call your Valley View Dental locations in Romeoville, Naperville, and Montgomery, IL, if you have any questions.