Many dentists take a holistic approach to dentistry because they understand that oral health is connected to the rest of your body, and without the proper care, not only can your smile suffer, but your physical wellbeing can, too. In fact, several studies have attributed poor oral health as a risk-factor for multiple serious medical condition. Read on to learn what medical conditions are associated with oral health and how you can reduce your risk of developing one with proper dental hygiene.
One connection that has been established among countless published studies is the one between gum disease and cardiovascular (heart) disease. The bacteria that are responsible for gum infections can accumulate in the mouth, eventually travelling into the bloodstream. Once this happens, the bacteria can cause inflammation and infection in other areas of the body, like the cardiovascular system, leading to blood flow problems that result in heart attacks and strokes.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that results in inflammation and pain that can attack the joints, resulting in chronic discomfort and an increased risk of other health issues. The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society released a publication showing that people who had gum disease were four times more likely to also have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Conversely, Rheumatoid Arthritis can also lead to worsened oral health by resulting in jaw problems, dry mouth as a side-effect of medications, and mobility issues that make it more difficult to clean the teeth.
One other medical condition that can be linked directly to poor oral health is Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research shows that the inflammation that occurs in patients with gum disease as a result of bacteria accumulation can affect the chances that a patient will also have one of the protein markers of Alzheimer’s, amyloid beta. This protein clumps together to form plaques and is believed to be one of the first proteins deposited in the brain when Alzheimer’s develops.
Prevention & Maintenance Tips for Your Overall Health
A great way to look after your whole-body health and prevent the formation of both oral health issues as well as medical conditions is to pay attention to your teeth and gums. With a good oral hygiene routine in place, you can reduce your risk of developing life-changing conditions like the ones listed above. Some recommendations suggested by both dentists and the ADA to maintain the health of your teeth and gums include:
- Brush twice each day for two minutes using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss your teeth at least once every day.
- Protect your teeth from damage if you grind them or play sports.
- Visit your dentist for thorough checkups and professional cleanings every six months.
With the right care, you can improve your physical and oral health to live an overall better life.
About the Author
Dr. Edward Dooley has decades of experience as a dentist and loves spending time to get to know each of his patients to provide them with personalized dental care. He is a proud member of several professional organizations that allow him to stay up to date with the latest research and technology in the dental field, including the American Dental Association and Academy of General Dentistry. For questions or to schedule a checkup and cleaning to get a clean bill of health, visit Dooley Dental’s website or call 732-974-2288.