The Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health
Most people believe that visiting the dentist has a single purpose: maintaining the health of their teeth and gums. While the dentist does focus on oral health, the health of your teeth and gums is directly related to the health of your entire body. So, visiting the dentist is actually an essential part of your overall healthcare and your body’s needs.
Periodontal Disease and Your Body
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is a bacterial infection of the gums that develops when tartar and plaque accumulate on the surfaces of the teeth along the gum line. This buildup pushes the gums away from the teeth, creating pockets where harmful bacteria thrive.
Left unaddressed, periodontal disease causes a variety of local symptoms such as:
- Red, swollen, bleeding, receding gums
- Tooth sensitivity
- Tooth decay
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
- Deterioration of the periodontal ligaments and jawbone
Additionally, when periodontal disease is not addressed, bacteria from the gum infection can enter a person’s bloodstream where it travels throughout the body, wreaking havoc on your general health.
10 Effects of Periodontal Disease on Overall Health
1. Cardiovascular Disease
People with cardiovascular disease are more likely to have periodontal disease, and those with periodontal disease are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. While the connection between the two conditions is not clearly understood, it is clear that they are related. Maintaining the health of your gums can help you avoid and manage health problems associated with your heart.
Like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and periodontal disease seem to be correlated in a similar way. Individuals with periodontal disease are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Individuals who have diabetes are also more likely to develop periodontal disease, and periodontal disease makes diabetes more difficult to manage, as it can lead to an increase in blood sugar.
3. Rheumatoid Arthritis
An increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis has also been associated with periodontal disease.
4. Dementia and Other Cognitive Disorders
The generalized inflammation associated with periodontal disease is thought to be responsible for increasing a person’s risk of developing dementia or experiencing other types of cognitive dysfunction.
5. Reproductive Health Problems
Periodontal disease has been associated with reduced sperm quality. Additionally, women with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of delivering prematurely and/or delivering babies with low birth weight.
6. Respiratory Disease
Periodontal disease increases a person’s risk for respiratory infections and inflammation. With an elevated amount of bacteria in the oral cavity, it’s more likely that a person will inhale some of these bacteria while simply breathing naturally. This introduces bacteria to the lungs and windpipe, increasing the chances for infection like pneumonia.
7. Chronic Kidney Disease
Periodontal disease causes systemic inflammation that has been associated with chronic kidney disease.
Periodontal disease can also increase the chances of developing a variety of cancers.
Periodontal disease is correlated with weight gain and obesity.
10. Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome refers to a variety of health factors that come together to make a person highly susceptible to developing issues like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity (all of which periodontal disease has been correlated with).
Periodontal disease also increases a person’s risk of developing the health factors that are related to the above-listed conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and excess fat around the waist.
Additional Effects of Oral Health on General Health and Wellness
In addition to the effects of periodontal disease on the systemic health of the body, oral health can have an impact on general health and wellbeing in several other ways too.
Oral health problems that lead to tooth loss or that are characterized by crooked teeth can have a detrimental effect on a person’s confidence, as these issues can change the way a person looks.
Oral health problems that cause pain or sensitivity or simply make it difficult to eat a wide variety of foods or chew normally can have a detrimental effect on a person’s ability to eat a balanced diet and continue enjoying all of the foods they love most.
Issues with tooth loss or misaligned teeth can also affect a person’s speech.
Many oral health issues cause painful symptoms. For example, misaligned teeth and/or temporomandibular joint disorder can cause jaw pain, neck pain, headaches, sensitive teeth, and other painful issues that can diminish your quality of life each day.
Quality of Life
In general, the health of your teeth and gums is directly related to your overall quality of life. It’s important to invest in preventive and general care to maintain your oral health while also talking with one of our dentists about restorative and cosmetic treatments that can restore the form and function of your smile while also giving you a smile that you are proud to show off.
Preventive, Restorative, and Cosmetic Dentistry With Our Dentists at Smiles at the Exchange
Your oral health is important to us, and it should be to you, too! We firmly believe that everyone should be able to access the dental care they need to maintain the health of their teeth, gums, and entire body. If you experience dental anxiety or have other concerns about visiting the dentist, we encourage you to contact us. We offer a variety of sedation dentistry options and additional solutions designed to help you feel comfortable visiting the dentist and be able to relax during your treatments.
To learn more about how dental health is related to your overall health or to schedule a consultation with a dentist at Smiles at the Exchange, we welcome you to contact our dental office today.
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