Oral health: A window to your overall health
What's the connection between oral health and overall health?
What conditions can be linked to oral health?
- Endocarditis. This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
- Cardiovascular disease. Although the connection is not fully understood, some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
- Pregnancy and birth complications. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Pneumonia. Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
- Diabetes. By reducing the body's resistance to infection, diabetes puts your gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes.Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control.
- HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
- Osteoporosis. This bone-weakening disease is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Certain drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.
- Alzheimer's disease. Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer's disease progresses.
How can I protect my oral health?
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush using fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily.
- Use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit food with added sugars.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn.
- Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.
- Avoid tobacco use.