When you think about your health, you probably think about your weight, your blood pressure and your cholesterol. After all, we’ve all been taught that you are what you eat and to keep an eye on the numbers that comprise out healthy identity.
But did you know that your oral health can play a huge role in your overall health too? Not only does brushing your teeth and flossing prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease but it can also help ward off or prevent other medical issues.
To understand how your oral health impacts your overall health, you need to understand what’s going on inside your mouth. Bacteria that builds up on your teeth can make your gums more prone to infections like gingivitis and periodontis, a severe gum disease.
Those diseases not only cause your mouth to become inflamed by causing your immune system to attack, but they can introduce that same bacteria to the rest of your body.
The strongest link between your oral health and other diseases is found between periodontis and diabetes. The inflammation that starts in your mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar. The inflammation interferes with the body’s ability to utilize insulin, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. In turn, high blood sugar allows infections to flourish.
For unknown reasons, gum disease and heart disease seem to be connected. About 91 percent of people with heart disease have periodontitis. The working theory is that inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation in the blood vessels, which can increase the risk for heart attack. Inflamed blood vessels allow less blood to flow between the heart and the rest of the body. It is also believed that fatty plaque will break off the wall of the blood vessel and travel to the heart or the brain.
Both osteoporosis and periodontitis have bone loss in common, but osteoporosis impacts the arms and legs and periodontitis impacts the jaw. Researchers are testing the theory that inflammation triggered by periodontitis could weaken bone in other parts of the body.
According to arthris-health.com, there is a strong connection between your oral health and arthritis. Research has shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk for gum inflammation including gingivitis and periodontitis. There Is growing evidence that suggests genetic and inflammatory markers increase the risk for both dental problems and Rheumatoid Arthritis. And, there is a small study that suggest if you take care of your teeth and gums, your arthritis symptoms will improve too.
According to research published in the Journal of Periodontology, dental health may contribute to a healthy respiratory system. The study suggests that periodontal disease may increase respiratory infections including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia because a dirty mouth introduces more bacteria into the mouth that gets filtered into the lungs.
Luckily, regular brushing and flossing can help cut down on the plaque that builds up along your gum line. This can cut down on the risk of gingivitis, which left unchecked can cause periodontitis.
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To see how to brush your teeth the right way, click here.