Maintaining good oral health comes with many benefits: fresh, minty breath; healthy gums and teeth; and an attractive smile. Your oral health is more important than you realise, and its rewards extend beyond a pretty smile. Did you know that your oral health also gives you clues about your overall health? Find out how, now!
Research shows that there is an important synergic relationship between good dental health and your systemic health. In other words, poor dental health can result in serious medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and rheumatic arthritis, which are far more harmful than gum disease or tooth loss1.
Simultaneously, having healthy teeth and gums could mean less health issues! Protect yourself by learning more about what your dental condition tells you about your health.
Your mouth is (unfortunately) home to millions of bacteria. It is estimated that there are around 300 species of bacteria living inside our mouths5. Bacteria are very tiny — only 1/500th of a human hair in width — but can cause big problems in our mouths.
Most of the time those bacteria in your mouth are harmless, and usually, can be kept under control by our natural body defences and good oral health care. However, if there is existing inflammation in your mouth, bacteria can enter the bloodstream, which may harm your digestive and respiratory systems as your mouth acts as the gateway to your whole body.
Some of the most common problems that can affect even the healthiest of teeth and gums include gingivitis, periodontitis, dental cavities (tooth decay), yellow and stained teeth, and bad breath (halitosis). How do these affect our overall health? Read on to find out!
If you noticed a change in your usually-healthy gums, such as how they bleed easier than before and/or often get swollen or reddish in colour, you might have gingivitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums caused by a bacterial infection. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to become a more serious infection called periodontitis, which will cause bone loss and deep gum pockets. Eventually, your teeth might shift or become loose.
Many studies have shown that periodontal disease is crucially interrelated with systemic issues/underlying health conditions. These issues include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, complications during pregnancy, and respiratory infections2,4. Periodontitis will also adversely affect diabetes control3,4.
According to Harvard Medical School, people with gum disease (periodontitis) also have an increased risk of having a heart attack. This is because of a specific, type of plaque (fatty plaque) that might build up inside the arteries. The medical term is atheroscelerosis.
Clearly, Maintaining oral hygiene is the best way to prevent oral diseases and also to reduce the risk of serious, subsequent health issues.
Dental cavities are caused by the demineralisation of tooth enamel from acids released by bacteria in plaque. According to BetterHealth, those who live with diabetes will naturally have more glucose in their saliva and very dry mouths. Therefore, these might indirectly contribute to tooth decay and even cavities.
Deep dental caries can cause infections and toothaches. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be embarrassing. It cannot be resolved by chewing mints, rinsing with mouthwash, or a good brushing because they do not address the causes of the problem.
Another dental health problem that may affect your smile and self-confidence is tooth discoloration. It is caused by extrinsic stain, intrinsic stain, and psychological aging. Depending on the root causes and severity, your dentist will decide which type of treatment is effective for you.
Speaking of teeth discolouration, did you know that health supplements can actually discolour your teeth? More common among pregnant women, prescribed vitamins and supplements that are rich in iron can actually cause tooth discolouration6.
Halitosis, or colloquially referred to as bad breath, is when a person experiences a condition that gives off an unpleasant mouth odour when they speak or exhale. Its common causes include poor oral hygiene, specific dietary preferences and habits such as smoking.
According to Healthline, bad breath might also be the product of acid reflux, which is medically referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Always visit your dentist when in doubt.
The best way to prevent all of these dental problems before it is too late is by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and having a healthy lifestyle. Also, go for dental check-ups twice a year for good dental health maintenance and to help detect any early signs of oral diseases. You can ask your dentist about more ways to make sure your teeth stay healthy.
Without a doubt, there is a close connection between your oral health and overall health. It is clear that early diagnosis and treatment of periodontitis and other dental problems can help reduce the risk of many well-known medical diseases. Taking good care of your oral hygiene can go a long way, indeed. Practice proper oral hygiene and maintain your healthy teeth and gums, starting by choosing the right toothbrush and toothpaste today!