Like many people, do you think that brushing teeth daily and avoiding sweets is the way to maintain good dental health? There’s more to your mouth than your teeth – your gums, the jaw bone that holds your teeth in place, and the salivary glands that make saliva – are all part of your oral cavity. Clearly, good oral health has to do with more than merely brushing your teeth.
Oral health has a direct link to your overall health – problems in your mouth can point to problems in other parts of your body. People with gum disease are 40% more likely than others to have a chronic medical condition as well.
What is the mouth – body connection?
Research suggests that inflammation of severe gum disease (periodontitis) and the bacteria that cause it are a factor in some other diseases.
Certain conditions such as endocarditis (infection of the lining of the heart), heart disease, stroke, premature birth, and low birth weight in babies have been linked to gum disease and oral bacteria.
Conditions that reduce the body’s resistance to infections such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS also affect oral health.
- Diabetes – people with diabetes have more severe gum disease and people with gum disease have more problems controlling blood sugar levels.
- HIV/AIDS – painful oral sores are more common in HIV/AIDS patients.
Saliva plays a vital role in the mouth by washing acids, bacteria and food debris away. Anything that reduces the production of saliva can, therefore, cause severe oral health problems.
- Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune disorder that reduces saliva
- Medications that have dry mouth as a side effect. Examples include painkillers, anti-allergy, and anti-anxiety drugs
Osteoporosis — a disorder in which bones become weak and brittle — mo bone loss around the teeth and tooth loss.
How can you protect your oral health?
Good daily oral hygiene protects your oral health:
- Floss at least once daily.
- Get a new toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are bent.
- snacking in between meals.
- Have regular dental checkups and cleanings.
- Do not smoke.