Missing teeth can deal a blow to anyone's self-confidence, and waiting to replace those teeth can cause big problems in your oral health. As soon as a tooth falls out (or is knocked out), the remaining teeth begin to go through some negative changes almost immediately. You can drastically improve your oral health by replacing…
What is the Oral-Systemic Connection?
Oral health and general health have been linked for a long time; even though the link between the two is still being researched, both the dental and medical professions have accepted the oral-systemic connection. According to research, the oral-systemic connection is not a single connection between oral and general health. It is a link for various organs and disease entities, some of which are more established than the others.
The relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes, as well as respiratory infections and oral pathogens, are well established, with plenty of evidence confirming the relationship between them. Studies have also shown that there is a link between poor oral hygiene and heart disease, stroke and dementia.
How does my oral health affect my general health?
According to the Academy for Oral Systemic Health, there are three main ways oral disease can affect your general health. The first involves bacteria from your gums spreading to your saliva, then progressing to your lungs to cause pneumonia and pulmonary infection.
The second way involves the bacteria in your gums entering your circulatory system and traveling through your body. As the bacteria travels, it can cause secondary infections or worsen a disease you already have.
The third way oral disease can affect your general health is when the inflammation caused by gum disease stimulates an inflammatory response in your body or complicates other diseases caused by inflammation, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes or kidney disease.
Is periodontal disease the only disease that causes health problems?
The oral-systemic connection is not limited to diseases caused by gum disease. Other oral health factors that contribute to poor general health include:
- Sleep apnea
- Oral cancer
- Tooth decay
- Headaches and migraines
Is having bad breath a sign of oral disease?
Yes. Bad breath, which is also known as halitosis, is caused by bacteria in your mouth, food particles that are stuck between your teeth after eating and dead skin cells in your mouth. It can lead to the breakdown of your gum tissues, which eventually allows the bacteria to get inside your gums and your body’s circulatory system. Chronic bad breath can be masked with cosmetic options like mouthwash and gum, but they do not fix the problem, which is why you should see a dentist if you have persistent bad breath.
How can I protect myself from serious health problems?
The best way to avoid the oral-systemic connection causing health problems down the line is to practice good oral hygiene. According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day and use dental floss to remove the food particles that get stuck between your teeth.
You should also use fluoride mouthwash to help fight cavities and visit your dentist at least twice a year to help you stay on top of any potential oral problem you might have.
The oral-systemic connection provides evidence of the relationship between your oral health and your general health. If you want to avoid having to deal with serious health problems in the future, ask your dentist for tips on how to improve your oral health.
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