We all know that we have to brush our teeth and floss so that we would have a healthy mouth, but that isn’t all there is to it when it comes to the health of our mouths. There are actually a lot of ways our mouths are connected to the rest of our bodies health-wise and knowing all of the signs can be a real life-saver for some people. So here are the basics you need to know:
Out of all the body-mouth health connections, the one with diabetes is probably the strongest because it works both ways. Firstly, if you have periodontitis (inflammation of the gums), the inflammation will weaken the body’s ability to process insulin, which is a crucial hormone which helps control blood sugar levels, leading to diabetes. On the other hand, diabetes can lead to high blood pressure, which is perfect for the infection growing in your mouth. This doesn’t mean that anyone who has periodontitis also has diabetes, but that if you are in a critical zone with your blood sugar levels, you should be visiting your dentist regularly for checkups and hoist a red flag at the first sign of inflammation.
Oral health and lifestyle factors
Oral health seems to be completely linked with other aspects of our lifestyle that are detrimental to our overall health. Take, for example, Great Britain, where both bad oral health and obesity are on the rise. This isn’t a coincidence – both conditions have the same source: smoking, a lot of sugar in the diet, highly processed foods, etc. This isn’t to say that the two cannot be present separately, but that symptoms of one might be warning signs for the other. Sometimes, you can get periodontitis even if you keep perfect oral hygiene, eat raw and homemade foods without a lot of added sugar and lead an overall healthy lifestyle. But if you know you are not making the best lifestyle choices, and you see symptoms such as rapid weight gain or tooth decay, it’s a pretty clear sign that you’ve gone far enough to start causing issues that are likely to affect all aspects of your health.
For most mothers-to-be, the primary and only concern is for the baby to be healthy, full-term and without any issues. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Some babies are born premature, underweight or with various health conditions. And while there are a plethora of factors that can cause this (many of which are lifestyle choices such as those mentioned above), inflammation in the mouth can put both pregnant women and fetuses at risk. During my pregnancy, regular check-ups at my local dentist at Bondi Junction were a must, especially given a history of issues with gum disease. So, while you might not consider a trip to the dentist to be a crucial part of your prenatal exam, it really should be.
The leading cause of death worldwide is heart disease, and you really want to do everything in your power to avoid and postpone the issues for as long as possible. There is, without a doubt, a connection between gum disease and heart disease, as 91% of people with heart disease also have periodontitis. The leading theory is that the inflammation in the gums travels through your bloodstream, leading the inflammation through the blood vessels into your heart. There is also the issue of plaque – a buildup around your teeth – that could break off and travel through your bloodstream to your heart, lungs or brain, causing a fatal consequence. And as always, the same risk factors apply to both diseases, making it much more likely to have both at the same time.
If you feel like you don’t really know what to do with this information – that’s okay. Firstly, if you are going to your check-ups, your dentist will alert you about any activity that might require further testing with other medical specialists. But also, if you notice inflammation in your gums, hopefully, this taught you not to toss it away as something that will “just pass” and urge you to investigate whether it had effects on the other parts of your body. But the formula will always be the same: a healthy lifestyle and healthy daily choices will give you the best possible chances for a high-quality, long life.
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