Since you were a kid, you probably heard that you need to brush your teeth or else you will get cavities. For many people, this is a large motivator to take care of their oral health and brush their teeth. Although poor oral health can indeed lead to cavities, that's not the only thing you should fear when it comes to poor oral care.
Many people don't realize that the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums affects your overall health. Yes, that's right – your mouth can impact the rest of you! In fact, research suggests that poor oral hygiene can lead to other health conditions or that poor oral health is a sign or symptom of a different underlying disease.
If you want to know how your oral health can impact your overall health, read on. In this article, we're going to look at how oral care also affects the rest of the body and how you can improve your oral care routine. Let's get started.
Oral Hygiene and Overall Health
It may be helpful to think of the mouth as a two-way portal to the body. By this, I mean that oral hygiene can affect the rest of your body's health, while other diseases can cause symptoms within your mouth. In other words, poor oral hygiene can either lead to further complications or be an indicator of a different illness.
So, you should pay close attention whenever you have poor oral hygiene. It can be a sign of a severe underlying issue, or it may simply show you that you need to focus on your oral hygiene to prevent a different issue from coming up later on.
Your mouth acts as a two-way portal because it, like the rest of your body, has a lot of bacteria within it. Most of the bacteria are harmless, but some can be dangerous if it gets out of hand. Regular brushing, flossing, and dentist visits tend to keep the bad bacteria at bay.
However, if you don't take proper care of your teeth, your teeth can turn yellow, forcing you to whiten them. Even worse, the bad bacteria can grow exponentially and spread to the rest of your body.
This puts you at risk for oral infections, like tooth decay or gum disease. These oral infections are bad enough on their own, but they can spread to other parts of the body, exacerbating or causing other underlying conditions.
Medications and Oral Hygiene
If you have listened to one of those dreadfully long medication commercials, you know that medicines often have many potential side effects. One side effect of certain medicine types is reduced oral health.
Medications like decongestants, painkillers, antihistamines, diuretics, and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow. The point of saliva is to wash away food and neutralize acids produced by the mouth bacteria. This allows it to help protect you from bacteria overgrowth and infections. Hence, oral health can diminish when taking these medications.
If you don't understand these medications' side effects, you can easily have worsening oral hygiene without knowing why.
Conditions Linked to Oral Health
Research suggests that poor oral hygiene can lead to a variety of conditions. Although these conditions are not fully understood, You should still take the research seriously and focus on your oral health. Here are some health conditions that can be worsened by gum disease and poor oral care:
Endocarditis is an infection within the inner linings of your heart chambers or valves. This condition is often caused whenever bacteria and germs travel from one part of your body, spread through your bloodstream, and attach to your heart. Bacteria from the mouth is a common culprit for endocarditis.
Whenever you have a surplus of bacteria in your mouth, there is a higher chance that bacteria can spread via your bloodstream to your heart. As a result, poor oral hygiene is sometimes connected with endocarditis.
Some research suggests that cardiovascular diseases like heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke can be linked to oral bacteria's inflammation and infections. Though this connection is not understood, the research supports it rather strongly.
Some scholars suggest that periodontal disease, or gum disease, causes an increase of inflammation in the body. Since inflammation is a risk factor for heart disease, it then makes those with poor hygiene more at risk for cardiovascular diseases. Still, it is up for debate as to exactly why oral health impacts cardiovascular disease.
Pregnancy and Birthing Complications
Periodontitis is the fancy name for gum disease, and it is linked to pregnancy and birthing complications. More specifically, it is linked to premature birth or low
birth weight. Like the link between oral hygiene and cardiovascular disease, the link between oral care and pregnancy is barely understood.
Some researchers suggest that the infections cause an immune response, which then triggers preterm labor. Interestingly, treating gum disease does not seem to impact the risk of early delivery. Regardless, you will want to take extra care of your mouth if pregnant or wanting to become pregnant.
An overgrowth of bacteria in your mouth can spark respiratory issues like pneumonia. This occurs when certain bacteria are taken from your mouth and
pulled into your lungs. This is especially true of people who have other underlying conditions, like immune diseases.
Similarly, additional bacteria in the airways can trigger chronic lung conditions. Those with chronic respiratory issues should definitely be considerate of the number of bacteria in their mouth.
One study has suggested that oral bacteria can worsen knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In this study, some of the people tested had gum bacteria in their knee joints. Researchers believe that this can exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis.
Since only one study has been conducted on this issue, there is still a lot more research that needs to be done concerning the connection between arthritis and oral health. Still, the study is a telling indicator of the connection between oral health and joint health.
Conditions that Can Affect Oral Health
As we mentioned before, the mouth is a two-way portal, meaning that it can indicate what's happening inside you. Thus, poor oral hygiene can also be a sign of some other illness. Here are the most common diseases that are associated with worsening oral hygiene:
The most common disease with ramifications on one's oral health is diabetes. Diabetes is an underlying issue that severely puts your gums at risk. Since diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection and impairs blood flow, your gums might become infected more easily. Those who have diabetes often have more frequent and severe gum disease.
In contrast, some research suggests that those who struggle to control their blood sugar levels also often have gum disease. This has led many scholars to believe that regular periodontal care can help control diabetes and its symptoms.
Since people with HIV/AIDS are more susceptible to infections and bacteria, they often have oral hygiene issues. People with these illnesses often get painful mucosal lesions, for example.
Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease. Due to the nature of the disease, it is often linked to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. This makes oral hygiene more difficult to keep up and all the more important to pursue.
Medications used to treat osteoporosis can also damage jaw bones, furthering the risks associated with osteoporosis's oral hygiene.
What You Can Do About It
As you can see, oral health matters a lot. If you don't take care of your mouth properly, it can have a lot of negative impacts on your body down the line. If you want to make the most out of your oral health, here is what you can do:
Visit Your Dentist
Although many people groan in annoyance and pain when they visit their dentist, this is one of the best ways to make sure that your oral health is in check. Your dentist can make sure that you are taking care of your mouth properly and give you any treatment recommendations.
By visiting your dentist frequently, you may also be able to detect gum disease and other infections early. By detecting these issues early, you can target the issue before it affects other parts of your body.
Take Care of Your Mouth
When you are not going to the dentist, you still need to take care of your mouth yourself. You can do this through frequent brushings, flossing, and eating healthy foods. We're going to get more into this in the next section, so we will put this topic on pause for the time being.
Drink More Water
At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that certain medications could hinder saliva production. If you are on one of these medications, it is a great idea
to drink more water. This is a great way to help rinse out your mouth and prevent excess bacteria. All the while, drinking water is just good for you in general. Your organs and skin will be thankful too!
How To Care for Your Mouth
The best way to take care of your mouth is to have good oral hygiene practices. By taking care of your mouth and getting rid of excessive bacteria, you fight cavities and gum disease while protecting the rest of your body as well. Here are some ways to take care of your mouth:
Use Electric Toothbrushes
Thanks to technology, the days of using a boring, handheld toothbrush are over. Upgrade to an electric toothbrush to keep your teeth as clean as possible.
Studies suggest that electric toothbrushes are more effective at cleaning your teeth than regular toothbrushes.
Since there are so many models on the market, you can find electric toothbrushes at an affordable price. If you aren't on a budget, you can even look for electric toothbrushes with built-in water flossers. No matter what toothbrush you are looking for, electric options are a great way to keep your teeth perfectly clean.
Flossing is one of the best ways to prevent gum disease. It removes plaque buildup and keeps your gums generally healthy. One of the best floss types to get is charcoal floss.
Even though charcoal is used a lot for grilling, it is also great for teeth cleaning.
Charcoal floss is a great product to use for preventing gum disease. This type of floss can remove more built-up gunk and bacteria than regular floss.
Don't worry, using charcoal floss won't leave your teeth black. Charcoal is one of my personal favorite ingredients to use in my oral care routine, and I can assure you it doesn't taste gross or leave a weird color on your teeth. Instead, it tastes minty fresh and leaves your teeth looking nice and shiny.
If you are going full out on your oral care routine, then you might want to start
whitening your teeth as well. Whitening kits will make your teeth look more shiny,
white, and attractive, and it may help get rid of any extra bacteria hanging around in your mouth.
Although whitening kits are a little bit more expensive than regular toothpaste, these kids do last a long time and are a great option if you are looking for that extra punch in your oral care routine.
Shockingly enough, your oral care impacts your overall health dramatically. From diabetes to cardiovascular disease to respiratory disease, oral health can greatly impact these diseases and more for better or for worse.
With this in mind, you should definitely take advantage of oral care products to keep your mouth fresh and free of excess bacteria. Although bacteria will always be in your mouth, make sure that no harmful bacteria is hanging out in your mouth, wreaking havoc on your body.
Invest in a good toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and maybe a whitening kit to upgrade your oral care routine and make the most of your health. Your body will thank you!