With ever growing research based evidence, people have begun to acknowledge that granny was right. “Healthy mouth, healthy you” is not a mere proverb. These are the words of wisdom, passed over from one generation to other.
Good oral health can improve overall well being and health of a person and can go a long way in keeping you hale and hearty and reducing the risk of serious diseases.
The Link Between Oral Health And Overall Health
In order to stop compartmentalizing oral health with overall health, we need to understand the connection between the two. Normally, our mouth contains a lot of bacteria like other parts of the body. Most of these bacteria are harmless and they are kept under check by body’s natural defense mechanism and good oral hygiene practices. In absence of proper oral hygiene, the bacteria in mouth can grow exponentially and cause harm to mouth through gum diseases, cavities, caries, etc.
Saliva plays a very important role in our body. It helps in food digestion, and it washes away food and neutralizes acid produced by bacteria in the mouth which may cause diseases. Certain medication like antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics, decongestants, etc. can reduce saliva formation and flow in the mouth.
Health Conditions Linked With Oral Health
Following are the health problems which may affect, get affected or may contribute to oral health problems.
Chronic inflammation of gums has been associated with the development of cardiovascular problems like blockage of blood vessels, stroke, etc. Researchers have also linked Endocarditis with mouth infection. Endocarditis is infection of inner lining of heart, called endocardium.
This infection occurs when bacteria or germs from other parts of body (sometimes mouth) travel through bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in the heart.
Memory Related Problems
In some studies, people who were suffering from gingivitis, performed worse on memory and other cognitive skills related tests. These people, particularly showed low performance in the areas of verbal recall and the process of subtraction; routine skills used in day to day life.
It has been found that people with uncontrolled sugar levels generally suffer from gum diseases also. When affected with diabetes, your body’s natural defense system goes slow and you may face problem warding off infections in body, including mouth infection.
Some researchers have also found that people with diabetes are more prone to catch some serious gum diseases than those who do not live with diabetes. Research also shows that people suffering from gum disease have hard time, controlling their blood sugar levels.
Periodontitis And Premature Birth And LBW (Low Birth Weight)Babies
Periodontitis is inflammation of periodontium. It is caused by bacteria that infect the roots of the teeth and surrounding gum crevices, resulting in bleeding, pus formation and gradual loss of bone and tissues that support the teeth. Some researches have made a connection between Periodontitis and premature births along with LBW babies. Though more research needs to be done in this area.
Osteoporosis may also be linked with periodontal bone and tissue loss. Though this is not confirmed, but some studies have indicated a link. Likewise, gingivitis has been linked with rheumatoid arthritis.
The experts believe that mechanism of tissue destruction is same in both the diseases and hence there may be a connection between the two.
Other Health Problems
Painful mucosal lesions are common among people suffering from HIV/AIDS, tooth loss before the age of 35 might pose as a risk for Alzheimer disease and Sjogren’s syndrome (an immune system related disorder which causes dry mouth) are also linked with oral health.