The Link Between Oral and Overall Health

Were you aware your oral health can be a window into your overall health? What about the fact there is a direct relationship between oral health and general health? Medications, oral hygiene and certain diseases can directly impact bacteria growth in the mouth.

Links Between Oral and General Health

90% of all systemic diseases result in oral symptoms according to the Academy of General Dentistry. HIV and diabetes are examples of diseases that typically become apparent due to mouth lesions and other oral problems. Having poor oral health can also lead to an increased risk of serious health complications such as heart attack and stroke. Diabetes and oral health have a very complicated relationship. Diabetes increases your risk for gum disease, while gum disease and oral infections can cause insulin resistance. As time goes on the connection between oral health and general health is becoming more and more apparent.

Oral Health and Heart Disease

The connection between oral health and heart disease is the spread of bacteria. Bacteria and germs can enter the bloodstream through your mouth, once in the bloodstream they can attach to damaged area, causing and increasing inflammation. The result of the inflammation can be infections of the heart, heart attack and even stroke. People with chronic oral conditions have the highest risk of heart disease.

Signs of an Oral Condition

There are many signs you may notice that should tell you when it’s time to see a dentist. While these aren’t the only symptoms you should be looking out for, they may be a good indicator of gum disease and other oral infections/conditions:

  • swollen, painful, red gums
  • gums bleed when eating, brushing and/or flossing
  • there are signs of pus around teeth and/or gums
  • gums are receding
  • frequent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
  • loose teeth or migrating teeth

Effect of Medications on Oral Health

There are many medications, both prescribed by a doctor and sold over the counter that can directly affect your oral health. Most of these medications cause dry mouth, which is a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva is useful in keeping food from collecting in your mouth and helps neutralize acids. Other medications such as inhalers can cause fungal infections in the mouth. Be sure to check the side effects of the medication and be aware of any oral side effects they may cause.

As time goes on, more information about the link between our oral health and general health is coming to light. It is time to stop looking at general and oral health separately and begin looking at them as one.