How Your Dental Health Affects Your Overall Well-Being

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Smiling face made of toothpaste, tube, brush and space for text on color background, top view

Brushing one’s teeth is already part of everyone’s daily routine, but not everyone fully understands how vital this is. Sure, brushing your teeth can keep your mouth clean and leave you with a minty breath, but do you know that your dental health significantly affects your overall well-being?  Are you aware that the condition of your mouth affects your risks to diseases?

Your dental health might only cover one part of your body, but how you take care of it can eventually take a toll on your physical and emotional well-being. All of these things are connected with each other, which is why it’ll be challenging for you to remain healthy if you disregard your dental health. 

Dental Health And Overall Well-Being: The Connection

Your mouth is full of bacteria, but contrary to popular belief, these bacteria do not harm the body. The bacteria found in your mouth, called lactobacilli, are actually essential to your overall well-being as these fight different kinds of bad bacteria and play a significant role in creating and maintaining a healthy balance in your mouth. 

However, because your mouth serves as an entryway to your respiratory tracts and digestive system, some of these bacteria eventually cause illnesses and diseases. In worse cases, these bacteria can even travel to your organs and cause significant damage in these areas. 

Your body’s greatest defense against these harmful bacteria found in your mouth is practicing proper oral hygiene, which can include flossing and brushing. Using reputable online resources, such as https://www.familydentalhealth.com/frequently-asked-questions-about-cavities/, to know more about common dental health problems and regularly visiting your family dentist can also help. 

Without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can quickly multiply in your mouth and cause oral infections, namely gum disease and tooth decay. Excessive use of certain medications, such as painkillers, antidepressants, and decongestants, can also reduce the saliva flow in your mouth. When this happens, microbes can breed in your mouth, making you more susceptible to diseases. 

Diseases such as AIDS, on the other hand, can adversely affect your body’s resistance to infections, making common oral health problems more severe and more difficult to treat. 

6 Diseases Caused By Poor Oral Health

Taking care of your overall well-being will not only require you to eat healthily and stay active. For you to stay healthy today and in the years to come, you should also pay attention to your dental health because your ability to do so can affect your risks in developing certain illnesses and diseases. 

To drive the point home, listed below are some of the diseases caused by poor oral health:

1. Cardiovascular Diseases

Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body because it’s responsible for pumping blood to different parts of your body, removing waste products from your system, and delivering nutrients and oxygen to your cells. However, as you age, your heart starts to weaken and becomes more susceptible to diseases. But, do you know that poor oral hygiene can also take a toll on your heart and make it more vulnerable to diseases even when you’re young?

Having poor oral health can increase your risk of acquiring heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases. When you’re suffering from periodontal disease, the same bacteria that cause inflammation to your gums will travel through your bloodstream and cause your arteries to harden because of plaque. 

Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries and can be very serious as this can restrict blood flow in your cardiovascular system. When left untreated, the plaque can burst and trigger severe blood clots in your heart. Atherosclerosis can also increase your susceptibility to heart attacks, hypertension, and stroke. 

Some of the most common symptoms of atherosclerosis include:

  • Chronic pain in the leg
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness due to lack of blood circulation in the body
  • Severe chest pain or angina
  • Shortness of breath
African male patient getting dental treatment in dental clinic

2. Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that doesn’t have any treatment yet. Once diagnosed with diabetes, you have to change your lifestyle in order to better manage its symptoms. For one, you’ll have to replace refined carbohydrates with whole grain foods to control your blood sugar. 

There are many factors that contribute to a person’s susceptibility to diabetes, but are you aware that poor oral health is one of them?  Severe gum disease can become the reason why you’ll eventually develop diabetes because this oral health problem significantly affects your body’s blood glucose control. 

Periodontal disease is considered as an infection. The bacteria that cause this disease produce toxins in the body that can affect the carbohydrate metabolism of your cells. When this happens, your body will gradually start to resist insulin and cause blood glucose levels to rise. With poor eating habits and lifestyle choices, the increase in your blood glucose levels can eventually trigger diabetes. 

If you suspect you have diabetes, pay attention if you’re currently experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Blurry vision
  • Bruises and cuts that heal very slowly
  • Feeling very thirsty and hungry more often
  • Numbness and tingling sensation in both the hands and feet
  • Severe weight loss even though you’re not changing your diet

3. Dementia

Everything that makes you human is because of your brain. Your brain works by controlling and coordinating your reactions, allowing you to think and feel, and enabling you to have memories and feelings. Your brain is also responsible for your speech, movement of the legs and arms, and the function of many other organs in your body. If you want your brain to continue working the same way, it’s essential that you properly take care of your dental health. 

Poor oral health can significantly affect the condition of your brain because the substances released from your gums when these are inflamed can kill your brain cells and cause memory loss. The longer you disregard your dental health, the more severe its effects will be to your brain. Dementia and other cognitive diseases should be taken seriously as these can trigger increased agitation, anxiety, and hallucinations. 

Poor oral health can become the reason why you’ll suffer from dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease. This happens because bacteria from gingivitis can spread in your mouth, travel through your bloodstream, and reach the nerve channels of your brain.

Some of the most common signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the following:

  • Challenges when solving problems and planning tasks
  • Confusion when remembering times and places
  • Difficulty in handling daily or familiar tasks
  • Difficulty in understanding spatial relationships and visual images
  • Severe memory loss that can disrupt your daily activities

4. Lung Infections

Your body is made up of many organs, and if you want to seize as many opportunities in life, you should consistently take care of them. Aside from your heart and brain, your lungs also play a vital role in your overall well-being as this allows you to breathe. Your lungs, as part of your respiratory system, bring oxygen into your body, as well as release carbon dioxide. However, it’ll be hard for your lungs to work this way if you continue to ignore your dental health. 

Your dental health can affect your lungs in many ways. For one, when you have periodontal disease, bacteria can thrive and breed in your mouth, which means that you’re more likely to inhale germs that can trigger lung infections, such as pneumonia. When diagnosed with this disease, you’ll experience difficulty breathing, fatigue, low body temperature, and urinary tract infection. 

Aside from this, gum diseases can also worsen any pre-existing lung problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to studies, gum diseases can aggravate symptoms of COPD, and can even lessen the efficacy of treatments. 

Listed below are the common signs of poor lung function:

  • Chronic cough that won’t go away even after medication
  • Coughing up mucus or blood
  • Noticeable pain or discomfort whenever you’re breathing in or out
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden decreased of ability to exercise

5. Joint Problems

Your body won’t be complete without joints. Your joints function by holding the skeleton together and supporting movements. It’ll be hard for you to move and engage in physical activities if you have poor joint health. Poor joint health can cause pain and discomfort when you’re engaging in simple activities, such as walking and running. 

If you don’t want your joints to become the reason why you’ll have to miss out on physical activities with your friends and family, it’s best if you start taking care of your dental health as soon as possible. The time and effort you exert in taking care of your dental health can affect your joint health in the long run. 

Bruxism or teeth grinding, for example, can aggravate the joints in your lower jaw and cause temporomandibular joint syndrome or TMJ. Once diagnosed with TMJ, expect to experience severe headaches and earaches to the point where you can no longer function well.

Grinding your teeth regularly can also wear down your enamel, cause broken or chipped teeth, and increase tooth sensitivity. Any of these conditions can adversely affect your dental health, making you more susceptible to other dental health problems. 

Here are the most common signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder:

  • Facial pain that doesn’t go away
  • Chronic pain in and around your ear
  • Difficulty in chewing or pain when chewing
  • Frequent locking of the joint to the point where you can no longer close or open your mouth
  • Severe tenderness or pain in the jaw

6. Pregnancy Complications

It’s common knowledge that everyone should practice good oral hygiene. However, only very few people understand how important this task is for expecting mothers. Women go through severe hormonal changes during pregnancy, and these changes actually make them more prone to oral infections. When not treated promptly, these infections can increase a woman’s risk of experiencing pregnancy complications. 

Aside from making sure that their own and their babies’ bodies stay healthy, it’s also vital for expecting women to take care of their dental health throughout their pregnancies. Common oral health issues, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are known to lead low birth weight in infants, and even premature birth. Any of these conditions can take a toll on the baby’s health, making them more prone to illnesses, like cerebral palsy and problems with hearing, when they grow up. 

Expecting mothers can prevent pregnancy complications by brushing and flossing regularly throughout their pregnancy. They should also seek professional help to determine which oral products are safe for them to use. 

How Can You Prevent Serious Health Issues Caused By Poor Dental Health?

Your overall well-being and dental health are connected in many ways, which is why you should exert a lot of effort in taking care of your mouth. Regardless of how healthy your meals are or how often you exercise, if you completely disregard your dental health, your efforts will be useless. 

If you want to look after your overall well-being, start by taking care of your dental health. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Thoroughly brush your gums and teeth at least twice a day.
  • Learn how to properly floss your teeth and do it after every meal.
  • Don’t smoke cigarettes or chew any tobacco products.
  • Avoid consuming sugary foods and drinks. 
  • Look for mouthwash and toothpaste products that contain high levels of fluoride. 
  • Most importantly, prioritize visiting your dentist. If possible, you should see your dentist every six months or once a year for oral exams. Regularly working with a professional will make it very easy for you to take care of your dental health as they can assess the condition of your mouth and treat oral problems as soon as possible. 

It’ll Be Worth It

Your ability to stay healthy depends on how you take care of your dental health. So, if you want to keep your mind and body strong for the longest time possible, you should prioritize taking care of your mouth by regularly consulting pros for help. Doing all of these can be time-consuming and, sometimes, expensive, but everything will surely be worth it in the end!