If the eyes are a window into the soul, then the mouth is the doorway to good health. Everyone knows that good oral hygiene (regular checkups, brushing and flossing, and avoiding sugary foods) is the key to avoiding bad breath, cavities, and yellow teeth. But fewer people realize the impact that oral health can have on your overall well being.
Our bodies are full of bacteria. Don’t get grossed out, much of this bacteria are friendly. It helps us break down our food, and works with our bodies to keep us healthy. Your mouth is no exception, even the healthiest mouth is full of bacteria – some good, some bad. Regular checkups, brushing, flossing and gargling keep these bacteria in line.
When you forget to (or avoid, as the case may be) brush and floss, these bacteria run wild. It creates bad breath, and worse– gum disease, tooth decay, sore throats, amongst other issues. There are other causes for the build-up and spread of bad bacteria. For example, certain medications can reduce your ability to produce saliva, which is vital as it works as a natural cleaner. Without saliva, bacteria will multiply and spread even with excellent oral hygiene.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the ways that oral hygiene impacts your overall wellbeing include:
Endocarditis: an infection that affects your heart’s inner lining
Cardiovascular disease: studies indicate the infection and inflammation of the gums caused by bad oral hygiene may cause cardiovascular disease. The bacteria from your mouth may enter your bloodstream, travel through your veins and arteries, and settle causing atherosclerosis (more commonly called hardening of the arteries). Hardened arteries cause plaque to buildup that can decrease blood flow, increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular conditions.
Premature birth and low birth rate: are both linked to poor oral hygiene, which is why it is particularly important for expectant mothers to take all aspects of their own health extremely seriously. Bacteria born in the mouth can spread through the bloodstream, causing complications in the mother and the baby.
Dementia/Alzheimer’s: although it is not yet certain, some research indicates that (similar to how bacteria from the mouth can cause plaque in the cardiovascular system) bacteria may also enter the brain. Once it enters the brain through the bloodstream or nerve channels, it inhibits normal brain function can cause or contribute to onset dementia and Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, dementia and Alzheimer’s also increase the risk of poor oral health.
Diabetes: poor oral hygiene won’t cause diabetes, but the bacteria and inflammation that it produces can make controlling your blood sugar more difficult. This can magnify the severity of the symptoms associated with diabetes. In some cases, diabetes and poor oral hygiene may have the same causes: sugary food and bad diet. The two issues often go hand in hand.
Other conditions may also negatively impact oral health. Among these are HIV/AIDS, which weakens the immune system and makes oral care even more important. Osteoporosis is also an ailment that causes weaken teeth and sore jawbone.
Visiting a local dentist is vital to your oral and overall health. Fortunately, in Canada we have some of the best dentists in the world. If you are from Oakville or Burlington, there are many excellent dentists to choose from.
Next time you think about skipping brushing, remember it isn’t just whoever has to smell your morning breath who is going to suffer – your health depends on it. Regular visits to your dentist are vital, so find your dentist in Oakville or Burlington today!