The Oral-Systemic Connection: How Your Mouth Impacts Your Overall Health
Medical discipline often treats the mouth and the body as separate things. However, modern research has shown a clear and often underestimated link between your oral health and your overall wellbeing. This link is known as the oral-systemic connection.
How does this connection work, and why should you know about it? This article will answer these questions and more.
Gum Disease Causes and Dangers
Your gums serve an essential function in keeping your teeth healthy and rooted to your jaw. However, their soft tissue makes them vulnerable to infection. Gums irritated by bacteria become inflamed, a condition known as gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis can evolve into periodontitis, an infection that harms the gums and can lead to dire consequences.
The Impact of Oral Infection on the Body
While nearly half of all adults in America have some degree of gum disease, not many will act on it. The symptoms of a periodontal infection are much subtler than other infections, which makes them often overlooked or missed completely. However, the dangers of such infections are very real.
Bacteria from an oral infection can spread through water droplets when we breathe in, reaching the lungs and causing a pulmonary infection or pneumonia. Worse, however, is what happens when infection reaches the bloodstream. Bacteria access the bloodstream, using our body’s own pathways to travel and cause secondary infections anywhere it can reach, including the heart.
The Oral Influence on Cardiovascular Disease
Apart from infection, gum disease is unlikely to cause a heart problem. However, certain risk factors can elevate the likelihood of both. High blood pressure is caused by a combination of inflamed blood vessels and high cholesterol in the bloodstream. These same conditions can lead to inflammation of the gums.
Studies show that patients with gingivitis may have a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke, and should be checked for these possibilities.
The Oral-Diabetic Link
Recent evidence has demonstrated a cyclical relationship between gum disease and diabetes. Diabetics are far more likely to develop gum disease. Consequently, gum disease can make it more difficult for diabetics to regulate their blood sugar levels. Because of this, diabetics must be proactive in treating both their blood sugar and gum health, as results from treating one at a time may prove only temporary.
A Healthy Mouth for Overall Wellbeing
Our mouths are far from isolated. Failing to care for this one area can have real and lasting consequences on our health overall. Because of this, practicing good oral hygiene habits and visiting your dentist regularly is an essential part of a healthy, fulfilling life.
Dr. Frantz Brignol helps patients throughout Maitland, FL, and the surrounding communities to achieve and maintain healthy, dazzling smiles. Keep your oral health in check – schedule a visit today!