You might not know it but your oral health can offer lots of clues to your overall health. At the same time, any problems or issues in your mouth can also affect the rest of your body. You might think that rigorous oral hygiene is only for the young, but adults also have to take extra care of their teeth and gums. In this era, it is important that you protect yourself by learning more about the connection between your oral health and your overall health.

Oral Health and Overall Health

Just like the other areas of your body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria, which are fortunately mostly harmless. However, your mouth serves as the entry point to your respiratory and digestive tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause damage in these parts of your body.

Normally, the natural defenses of your body along with good oral care can keep those potentially harmful bacteria under control. But if you do not brush and floss daily, bacteria levels can reach a higher level that can pave the way for oral infections like gum disease and tooth decay.

There are also certain medications like antidepressants, diuretics, antihistamines and painkillers that can reduce the flow of saliva in the mouth. Saliva is crucial in washing away food particles, and in neutralizing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. This offers you protection from microorganisms that multiple and cause disease.

Studies have shown that oral bacteria and the kind of inflammation caused by periodontitis (severe gum disease) can play a role in some health problems. Certain diseases like HIV/AIDS and diabetes can decrease the body’s resistance to infection, which in turn make oral health problems more severe.

Conditions Linked to Oral Health

• Cardiovascular disease. Its connection might not be fully understood until today, but some studies suggest that clogged arteries, stroke and heart disease might be connected to the infections and inflammations caused by oral bacteria.
• Endocarditis. This is an infection of the heart chamber’s inner linings, which happens when bacteria from another part of the body spreads through the bloodstream and attaches to the heart.
• Pneumonia. Certain microorganisms in the mouth can go to your lungs, leading to the development of pneumonia and other respiratory ailments.
Pregnancy and birth complications. Research has shown a link between periodontitis and low birth weight and premature birth.

Conditions Affecting Oral Health

• Alzheimer’s disease. along with the progression of Alzheimer’s, there is also a noted worsening of oral health.
• Diabetes. As it reduces the body’s resistance to infection, diabetes will put your gums at increased risk. Gum disease is more common and severe among diabetics. Studies have also shown that people with gum disease find it hard to control and manage their blood sugar levels.
• HIV/AIDS. Painful mucosal lesions and other oral problems are common among people with HIV/AIDS.
• Osteoporosis.This bone disease is linked with tooth and periodontal bone loss. Some drugs used to treat this ailment carries some risk of damage to the jawbone.

Other conditions that can have links to oral health include rheumatoid arthritis, eating disorders, Sjogren’s syndrome (an immune system disorder causing dry mouth), and certain cancers. Talk to your dentist about medications you are currently taking or if you notice an changes in your overall health.

Protecting Your Oral Health

In order to protect your oral health, it is crucial that your practice good oral hygiene every day. This includes brushing your teeth twice daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Remember to change your toothbrush every three months or once the bristles start to splay and wear out.

It is also important to floss daily and regularly use a mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing. Along with these, maintain a healthy diet, staying away from added sugars, and avoid tobacco use. Make sure that you have regular dental checkups and cleanings, and to contact your dentist once an oral health issue arises.

Author's Bio: 

James Franklin is a Freelancer blogger and Writer.