What You Need to Know about Oral Health and Overall Health
(For Educational Purposes Only)
Taking care of your teeth and gums not only helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease but can also affect your overall health. Here’s what you need to know.
When it comes to oral health, few of us think of the connection it has with health conditions such as heart disease, stroke or pneumonia. But as it turns out, your oral health and overall health are inextricably linked; studies suggest that poor oral health may in fact put you at risk of certain health problems.
This is because of the billions of good and bad bacteria in your mouth. If the balance between the harmless and harmful bacteria in your mouth is disrupted, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Poor oral health has also been linked to health problems such as:
Heart disease and stroke
Oral bacteria can cause inflammation in your mouth and if left unchecked, can lead to severe gum disease, which then puts you at higher risk of having clogged arteries (also known as antheroclerosis) and in turn, heart disease and stroke. A 2019 study published in the Journal of the American Health Association found that bacteria commonly found in the mouth were also present in the brains of 84% of stroke patients, suggesting that the harmful oral bacteria can play a role in the disease.
Respiratory problems like pneumonia
The bacteria in your mouth can also travel to your lungs when you breathe. This can be a problem for people who already have existing lung problems as it can worsen their condition. It is thought that such bacteria can also lead to respiratory infections such as pneumonia, especially for older people. Research has shown that poor oral hygiene is one of the most common risk factors of pneumonia, particularly for seniors who live in nursing homes or hospitals.
Having diabetes can put you at risk of many oral health problems, including tooth decay and gum disease. It is thought that about 9 out of 10 people who have diabetes will experience oral problems like gum disease, tooth decay, a dry mouth, tooth loss and more. This can be a serious problem, especially as gum disease can make you six times more likely to have difficulty managing your blood sugar levels.
While it is true that poor oral health can lead to health complications, the good news is that you can reduce your risk by maintaining good oral hygiene. But brushing your teeth twice a day is not enough; in fact, brushing your teeth only cleans about 25% of your mouth! For a thorough cleanse, try incorporating an antibacterial mouthwash that can kill germs that cause bad breath, tooth decay and other oral problems.