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Dr. Gerald Regni Jr & Associates

Oral Health and Overall Health – the "Mouth-Body" Connection

By Gerald Regni, DMD on May 15, 2016

Most people are aware of how poor dental and oral hygiene can lead to more serious problems such as cavities, gum or periodontal disease, halitosis, tooth decay, and a number of other conditions that require extensive treatment to correct. However, there is a direct relationship between your oral health and your overall physical health. Many dentists refer to this as the “Mouth-Body” connection. Suffice it to say, many physical health problems are oftentimes attributed to poor dental care. That is why dentists stress on proper oral hygiene regimen.

Bacteria in the Mouth

Your oral health can provide your dentist with clues regarding your overall physical health. So it is important to learn about the mouth-body connection and understand how your gums and teeth can have an effect on your health. Like many of the body’s other areas, the mouth is loaded with bacteria, most of which is relatively harmless. By practicing good oral hygiene (daily brushing and flossing), we can keep that bacteria under control. Conversely, a lack of this will certainly lead to a variety of infections such as gum or periodontal disease, tooth decay, and so on.

Impact of certain Medications

There are certain medications that hinder or reduce saliva flow which helps to wash away food particles and neutralize bacterial acids. That risks the health of the teeth. These medications include:
  • analgesics (painkillers)
  • anti-depressants
  • antihistamines
  • decongestants
  • diuretics
Your saliva plays a crucial role in protecting you and your mouth against microbial invasions and an overgrowth of bacteria, both of which could lead to diseases.

Areas of Concern

According to research studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic, there were certain health conditions that could be directly related to poor dental and oral hygiene:

Cardiovascular or heart disease – periodontal disease and the inflammation of the gums that results can create certain bacteria that can enter the blood stream and cause hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This causes plaque to develop on and thicken the arterial walls, thereby restricting blood flow and increasing your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Complications for diabetics – as a diabetic, you could find it difficult to control your blood sugar level if your gums are inflamed from periodontal disease. In turn, it could worsen your symptoms. It’s well-known that diabetics are considerably more prone to gum and periodontal disease.

Dementia – gingivitis bacteria can enter your brain through the bloodstream or nerve channels within the head. This could eventually lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.

Respiratory system infections – according to the Journal of Periodontology, gum or periodontal disease could lead to certain lung infections such as pneumonia. While this may not seem obvious at first, think of the consequences that could result from inhaling the bacteria caused by diseased gums over time.

Why risk succumbing to these different maladies? Practice proper oral hygiene at home and visit your dentist every 6 months.

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