You probably know that taking good care of your teeth and gums is essential to avoid painful cavities and keep your smile looking its best. But did you know that the status of your oral hygiene can affect your overall health? It may be surprising to know that when you don’t see a dentist regularly or fix issues with your teeth, you’re at higher risk of developing serious health conditions that involve your heart, brain, lungs, and more. If you need some motivation to call your dentist for an appointment soon, consider the connection between oral health and whole-body health, and then learn how to improve your oral hygiene.
How Can Your Oral Health Affect the Rest of Your Body?
When you have an oral health issue, you might assume it will only affect your mouth, but the truth is that some dental problems can cause you to become seriously ill. This is mainly because of the sheer amount of bacteria in your mouth. While most bacteria are harmless or not plentiful enough to cause a problem, some can lead to infections that enter your bloodstream and affect other areas of the body.
This is most common when you have severe gum disease, also known as periodontitis. The inflammation can create the perfect opportunity for bacteria to get into your bloodstream and affect your heart and other organs. In fact, one study discovered that people with gum disease were three times as likely as other people to have a stroke. They were also twice as likely to pass away from a heart attack.
Even if you get regular dental care and pay close attention to your oral hygiene, you may be at risk of developing dental issues over time merely by treating your existing medical conditions. This is because more than 1,100 medications can cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. You might already know that dry mouth is uncomfortable and can make it hard to chew or talk, but beyond that, it can also cause dental issues.
It’s the job of your saliva to wash away food particles and bacteria in your mouth, so when you don’t have enough of it due to the medications you take, you’re more likely than the average person to develop cavities and oral infections. If you don’t get immediate treatment for your dental issues, the bacteria from your mouth could enter your bloodstream and cause serious or even fatal health problems elsewhere in your body. That’s why it’s so important to not only see your dentist regularly but also get dry mouth treatment as soon as possible.
Which Medical Conditions Can Poor Oral Health Cause?
Whether you have untreated cavities, gum disease, or gingivitis, there is a chance that the bacteria will migrate from your mouth to other areas of the body. This could cause one or more of the following serious medical conditions:
- Heart disease. The bacteria that cause gum disease can travel through the bloodstream and affect the arteries in the heart. For example, this bacteria can thicken the walls of the arteries or cause the inner lining of the heart to become inflamed. These serious heart issues increase your chance of a heart attack or stroke.
- Respiratory issues. When bacteria from your mouth travels to your lungs, you could end up struggling to breathe due to pneumonia and other respiratory infections.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. When gum disease progresses to the point of tooth loss, your chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis increases.
- Dementia. The bacteria that cause gingivitis in your mouth can enter your brain through the bloodstream and cause inflammation, which can lead to memory loss.
- Pregnancy complications. Untreated gum disease in pregnant women can lead to premature birth, preeclampsia, low birth weight, fetal growth restriction, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
- Cancer. Gum disease can increase your chance of a cancer diagnosis. In fact, studies show that men with gum disease are 30% more likely than average to get blood cancer and nearly 50% more likely to get pancreas or kidney cancer.
- Cellulitis. When bacteria affect your gums and teeth, it has the potential to also cause an infection on and underneath your skin’s surface.
These are just some of the most common ways that an infection in your mouth can travel to the rest of the body and result in serious or even fatal health issues. This is why it’s so important to maintain good oral hygiene and seek immediate treatment for any infections in your teeth or gums.
How Can You Improve Your Oral Health?
If you want to reduce the odds that your heart, lungs, brain, and other important organs will become infected, you need to prevent bacteria from finding a new home in your gums and teeth. The simplest way to do this is by improving your oral hygiene.
Start by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least two times a day, ensuring that you brush for two minutes with a toothbrush with soft bristles that aren’t too worn. You should also floss at least once per day, followed by mouthwash to eliminate any bacteria or food particles that could be left in your mouth.
Try to stick to a healthy diet that has limited sugar, and avoid using tobacco if you want to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Finally, make sure you see your dentist regularly, with cleanings and checkups one to two times per year. This way, any dental issues will be identified and treated quickly, before the bacteria from your mouth can spread to other areas of the body and affect your overall health.
If you work hard to maintain good oral hygiene but suffer from dry mouth, you might be worried about your chances of getting cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues due to decreased saliva. This is a valid concern, but the good news is that there are ways to treat dry mouth.
One of the most effective options is Aquoral, an artificial saliva substitute that comes in the form of an oral spray. When you use this dry mouth treatment to lubricate your mouth and throat, Aquoral creates a protective coating in your oral cavity, giving you long-lasting dry mouth relief. This will make it easier for you to talk, chew, and reduce your chances of developing an infection in your mouth that affects the rest of your body.
Ask your doctor or dentist about Aquoral today and prevent the potential harm dry mouth can cause to your overall and wellness.