Making your oral health a priority can safeguard your overall health and well-being. That’s because many oral diseases can influence health conditions outside the mouth and vice versa.
Here’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy smile.
Your mouth and body are connected
Your mouth is full of many kinds of microorganisms, including bacteria. Thankfully, most of them are harmless and practicing good oral hygiene can help reduce the amount of bad bacteria in your mouth. But if you do have too much bad bacteria in your mouth, they can create acids and cause inflammation that lead to oral infections like tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease.
Bacteria from gum disease and inflammation in your mouth can influence other diseases and health conditions throughout your body.
Overall health issues are linked to your mouth
Gum disease — especially in its advanced stage — has been linked to a higher risk of:
Researchers continue to investigate connections between gum disease and other diseases. For instance, some research suggests a connection between mouth bacteria and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A large number of studies have also shown a potential association between gum disease and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. In addition, more severe gum disease in pregnant women may be a risk factor for delivering a premature or low-birth-weight baby.
Research suggests that people with gum disease are more likely to die from heart disease or stroke than those without periodontal disease.1
Gum disease and overall health issues intensify each other
Not only is gum disease more frequent and often more severe in diabetics, but it can also make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. Treating gum disease can help diabetics better manage their blood sugar levels.
In addition to diabetes, other diseases such as HIV infections, AIDS and blood cell disorders like anemia can make it more difficult for the body to fight infection, resulting in more severe gum disease.
Other health conditions that can damage oral health
How you can protect your oral and overall health
You can help prevent health issues with a regular at-home oral health routine, including:
Be sure to schedule regular dental visits. Your dentist can uncover oral problems such as mouth lesions or infections that may be the first sign of an underlying health problem.