You may not realize it but your oral health can give you clues about your overall health. Just like many parts of the body, your mouth is home to billions of bacteria. Most of them are harmless, but without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can grow and multiply, often leading to infections. This is the reason why experienced periodontists in Montreal always teach their patients to develop good oral habits and to see their dentists regularly.
Without proper oral hygiene, a person can develop tooth decay and gum disease. Moreover, common medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, and decongestants, can reduce the flow of saliva in the mouth, so you may be harming your oral health without even realizing it. Saliva plays a vital role in protecting you from bacterial overgrowth by washing away food and neutralizing bacteria-produced acids in the mouth. With reduced saliva flow, it’s easier for bacteria to wreak havoc on your health.
But that’s not all. Studies have also found that oral bacteria and inflammation triggered by gum disease can have a vital role in some diseases. It gets even worse for patients suffering from illnesses like diabetes and HIV/AIDS, as these ailments lower the body’s immune function, making oral issues even more severe.
Conditions That Have Been Linked to Oral Health
The following diseases and conditions have been linked to one’s oral health, and can be an important indicator that your oral health may be suffering:
- Cardiovascular disease. According to researchers, heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries may be linked to the infections and inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
- Endocarditis. This is an infection of the heart’s inner lining, better known as endocardium. When bacteria from another part of the body, such as the mouth, reaches your bloodstream, it can attach to the heart and this is when the person develops endocarditis.
- Pregnancy and birth. Low birth weight and premature birth have been linked to periodontitis.
- Diabetes. When a person has diabetes, they may have a lower resistance to infection, making them more prone to gum disease.
- HIV/AIDS. Painful mucosal lesions and other oral issues are common in those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS.
- Alzheimer’s disease. It’s been found that people with advancing Alzheimer’s disease or symptoms of dementia also have worsening oral health.
Aside from the ones listed above, studies have also found a link between oral health and certain cancers, eating disorders and arthritis.
How to Protect Your Oral Health
There are many things you can do to safeguard your oral health. To start with, you need to practice proper oral hygiene daily. You should brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Make sure to floss at least once daily.
In addition, you should also maintain a healthy diet and limit your snacks. Avoid consuming too much sugar, including natural sugars found in foods such as fruits, and stay away from tobacco products.
Finally, always keep your dental appointments. If you suspect a potential gum disease, make an appointment with a periodontist as soon as possible, so that you can safeguard your oral health now and into the future.