How good oral health can help you live a longer and healthier life

 In general dentistry

World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is on March 20th, and it is time to “Be Proud of Your Mouth,” since good oral health can help you live a healthier, longer life.

Many people don’t appreciate just how vital their dental health is. However, it goes without saying, poor oral hygiene impacts more than just your teeth. It can impact the rest of your body, ultimately leading to life-threatening health issues. 

“Show me your teeth, and I will tell you who you are,” said preeminent 18th -century scientist George Cuvier. Beyond doubt, the gentleman was onto something.    

How is oral health connected? 

Our mouths are packed with millions of bacteria, most of them harmless. Daily flossing and brushing keep the bacteria levels under control. However, when proper hygiene is lacking, serious problems can arise. 

The bacteria multiply and combine with sugar present in the food we take to create acids. These acids attack the teeth causing gum disease, periodontitis, tooth decay, and cavity, leading to infections that travel to other parts of the body via the respiratory system and digestive tract.  

Essentially, that is how dental health impacts your general health. Whenever you have an oral health issue, there is a considerable risk that it will spread into your bloodstream and impact the rest of your body.

Let’s explore some health conditions caused or linked to poor dental health.

Respiratory infections 

The significance of oral health can be demonstrated in a study published in the Journal of Medicine and Life, which established a link between gum disease and pulmonary infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. 

As we have mentioned above, if the bacteria buildup in the mouth is not controlled, it can travel via the respiratory tract and reach the lungs. These bacteria can eventually cause all forms of sinus infections or other respiratory diseases like pneumonia.      

Note: This issue is mostly life-threatening for people with weak immune systems and the elderly.  

Cardiovascular disease and stroke 

If your gums are crammed with bacteria-filled plaque, they’ll continually become inflamed and irritated, which leads to periodontal infections and other related oral problems. This irritation and inflammation can lead to clogging of the blood vessels, contributing to cardiovascular diseases like stroke, hypertension, and heart attack. Even worse, the heart’s inner lining may also get inflamed and infected, a condition known as endocarditis.

Diabetes 

Many people are aware that diabetic patients are highly likely to develop gum disease. However, studies such as one the EHWA Women’s University carried out have revealed that gum disease can directly contribute to the worsening of diabetes. 

Additionally, gum diseases such as periodontitis and gingivitis affect blood glucose control, which may contribute to the adverse effects felt by diabetic persons. What’s more, people with diabetes usually have a lower resistance to infections, including those brought about by gum disease. 

As you might have guessed, an endless cycle of worsening diabetes and gum disease can concurrently form if the issue is not addressed. This is another simple way to demonstrate how dental health impacts overall health.      

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). 

The connection between oral diseases and RA is that both are aggregated by inflammation. Apparently, the bacteria from gingivitis can spread all over the body and cause joint inflammation in people who are vulnerable to arthritis and other inflammatory ailments. In fact, research shows that you are four times more likely to develop RA if you have gum disease.       

Can cause pregnancy complication 

Everyone needs to practice good oral hygiene. However, proper dental care is exceedingly critical for expecting mothers. The reason being, hormonal imbalances that occur during pregnancy can leave an expectant mother more susceptible to oral infections.  

According to a study by the  Society for General Microbiology, infectious bacteria from the mouth can travel in a mother’s blood and be passed on to her unborn child. Usually, this can increase the likelihood of low birth weights and preterm births. To top it off, the mother might also experience an early onset of contractions as a result.    

Summing it up: Schedule regular checkups with Palo Alto dentists near you

As you can see, good oral health can directly impact your overall health and longevity. That is why you should take care of your mouth, especially if you suffer from health issues, such as immune disorders, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.  

Fortunately, scheduling regular checkups with the best family dentist in Palo Alto can help prevent common dental health risks and keep your hygiene on track. Let’s join hands and celebrate this year’s World Oral Health Day in style! 


(Disclaimer: We routinely draw upon public health resources to inform our write-ups. Information in this article has been gathered from multiple public health sources, including:

  1. http://mouthhealthy.org/
  2. https://www.cda.org/
  3. https://www.webmd.com

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