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7 Ways How Oral Health Impacts Overall Health

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The human body is a large system consisting of smaller, independent yet interdependent systems like the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, the skeletal system, the digestive system, etc. The functions of all these smaller systems are so intricately interconnected that malfunctioning of one of these negatively impacts the whole functioning of the human body. 

It is the same with the digestive system. Mouth, which is the beginning and a crucial part of the digestive system, also has an effect on the overall health. If your oral health is very good, then that is the point where you begin the journey of having a healthy body. In this article, we shall discover how this happens and what is the connection between oral health and overall health.

1. Connection with Cardiovascular health

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Studies have shown that oral infections, especially periodontitis increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart problems and strokes. 

To understand how this happens, we should keep one point in mind – all the oral diseases including periodontitis, occur due to the presence of foreign bodies (bacteria to be specific). This presence of bacteria triggers inflammation, the natural defense mechanism of the body initially in the mouth, later it may spread to other parts of the body if not treated. 

Inflammation is the major trigger factor for many heart diseases. That’s why people with these oral infections are twice as likely that people without infections to have a fatal heart attack, according to the Canadian Dental Association

Even the converse may be true, i.e., your cardiovascular problems may also impact your oral health. Make sure that your hygienist or the dentist is aware of your cardiovascular conditions if present.

2. Connection with Respiratory health

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People with oral infections have a lot more bacteria in their mouths than others. So, it makes sense that they have an increased risk of having respiratory infections because they inhale those bacteria. This may cause conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Pneumonia. The same study has shown that the incidence and mortality due to pneumonia can be reduced by regular brushing habits. If the conditions are pre-existing, gum diseases actually make them worse.

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3. Bruxism and Oral Health

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Bruxism is basically grinding the teeth to the extent that it causes dental issues. Some people have an unhealthy habit of grinding their teeth while many others will have it as a sleeping disorder. They grind teeth when they are fast asleep. 

When this unhealthy habit exceeds its limits, it leads to serious dental issues. It increases tooth sensitivity due to eroded enamel. It also causes unbearable pain in the joints in the lower jaw or temporomandibular joints (TMJs) in medical jargons. This can lead to headaches, pain and/or tightness in the lower jaw joint. 

4. Germ Breeding on the Tongue

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The tongue helps us to taste our food. Contradictory to the popular belief, the tongue is not smooth. It contains many small bumps called papillae, which become breeding grounds for bacteria inside the mouth. 

This bacteria population on the tongue can cause bad breaths and also affect your sense of taste. This negatively impacts your overall normal functioning. 

Research shows that bad breaths cause many psychosocial problems like social anxiety. 

5. Psychological Issues

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Bad oral hygiene automatically causes a sharp decline in the self-esteem of people. Oral hygiene and stress are also interconnected. Stress contributes to many oral problems like bruxism, dry mouth, gum diseases, etc. These problems, in turn, cause issues like stress regarding the treatment of these problems. This stress may also manifest itself in the form of dental anxieties, where even the thought of visiting a dentist causes fear. To break out of this cycle, ensure that you have a proper oral hygiene routine.

Science and technology have advanced the field of dentistry that dental procedures can be administered without pain. 

Sedation dentistry has become the new trend in dentistry these days. The dentists are specially trained in dental sedation through specially designed exclusive courses for Sedation Dentistry which many reputed institutes offer to the dentists. So, find a dentist who has completed such courses to address your fears.

6. Diabetes

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We all know that people with diabetes have increased risks for gum diseases. But some studies have proved that the converse is also true. That means even gum diseases contribute to diabetes. A study by the Canadian Dental Association has found out that the bacteria present in the mouth may cause irregularities in the carbohydrate-breaking mechanism of our body, thus contributing to diabetes. It also hypothesizes that periodontal bacteria increase insulin resistance, which is a major cause of diabetes.

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7. Pregnancy

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A study has shown that pregnant women who do not receive proper dental attention during the pregnancy have a slightly increased risk of preterm labor. Expecting mothers with gum problems are also prone to developing gestational diabetes, which is a major risk for any pregnancy. This impacts not only the mother but also the child, most of the time making the child prone to health problems for the rest of his life.

Maintaining health and hygiene is very necessary to improve our quality of life. Indeed, in today’s world, health is the real wealth. So, here were some of the areas of health in which a poor oral hygiene has a direct impact on.

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Written by Ross Geller

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