Oral Health May Impact Overall Health. Here’s How.

When researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry crunched data on patient histories, they found that individuals who suffered from gum disease were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as those who did not. This discovery cast a light on the interesting dependence oral health has on overall health. Let’s take a look at how the two are interconnected, what complications poor dental health might cause, and how it can be avoided.

Why Oral Health Affects Overall Health

Because your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, the bacteria you ingest or inhale isn’t controlled without good oral hygiene. That bacteria can get into your system and cause inflammation, infection, and damage.

Conditions Potentially Impacted by Oral Health

Alzheimer’s—a study from the University of Illinois Chicago found that mice suffering from gum disease experienced neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, and senile plaque formation that mimicked the growth of Alzheimer’s in human brains.

Diabetes— a report from the Surgeon General linked gum disease to a lowered ability to control one’s glycemic index. 

Heart health – bacteria spreading through your bloodstream can attach to certain areas in your heart, causing infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Lung health — bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

Oral cancer— Early detection resulting from oral examinations could help tremendously in curbing new cases of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, according to the CDC

Pregnancy complications— gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight, according to the CDC.

Suggestions for Oral Hygiene and Disease Prevention

The Mayo Clinic and World Health Organization recommend a few guidelines for maintaining good overall health, including: 

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time
  • Flossing daily
  • Using mouthwash
  • Replacing your toothbrush every three to four months
  • Eating a well-balanced diet low in sugars and high in fruit and vegetables
  • Drinking water as your primary drink
  • Avoiding all forms of tobacco; and
  • Reducing alcohol consumption

Here’s hoping this info contributes to your improved oral, and overall, health!