There is no separation between oral health and overall health. While your primary physician isn’t responsible for evaluating your gums, and your dentist isn’t responsible for analyzing your blood work, there are clear connections between what’s happening inside your mouth and what’s happening to the rest of your body.
We’ve put together the conditions and diseases most often linked between oral and overall health, so that you can have a clear guide and better understanding of your body’s total health.
The clues your oral health is giving about overall health
You’ve heard the saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” The truth is, that too many Americans apply that same mentality to oral health, oftentimes at the recommendation of their dentist. But that saying, cannot be applied to other facets of our personal well-being.
It’s not acceptable to wait until we go blind to get glasses, or until all five arteries of our heart are blocked to then schedule a bypass surgery. The same mentality must be given to oral health.
Pain, inflammation and oral bacteria can all lead to the formation of other, more serious diseases. Here’s any easy way to start shifting your perspective on oral health:
- Decay is still decay.
- Bleeding is still inflammation.
- An opening in your filling is a portal of entry for bacteria.
- An abscess is eating away at your bones.
General health conditions and diseases that may affect your oral health
- Autoimmune diseases: When an individual’s own body begins attacking itself instead of defending itself, autoimmune disorders inevitably occur. Those internal attacks lower an individual’s ability to fight infection, which increases the likelihood of oral infections.
- Pregnancy and childbirth: The hormonal changes that come with pregnancy can increase a woman’s chance of gum disease, and if left untreated, can lead to premature births.
- Osteoporosis: Posture isn’t the only thing affected by fragile bones. The weaker bones become the more likely they are to break. For those with osteoporosis, the chances of a tooth or jawbone bone breaking are real possibilities. Regularly monitor this with your dentist.
- Your medications: Certain medications—like antihistamines, painkillers and antidepressants—can cause dry mouth and reduce saliva flow. That might not seem like a big deal, but saliva works to cleanse your mouth and prevent decay. Without it, you may be at risk to develop disease.
Remember, what happens in your mouth can impact your general health and well-being. And what happens to your general health can also create residual effects to your oral health. The best thing you can do is to prioritize your medical exams and your dental cleanings with the same level of importance to your total well-being.