You must have heard since your childhood that your mouth is the gateway to your overall health. If you do not take care of your teeth and gums properly, it will lead to various oral diseases and other health problems.
Your oral health offers the first clues about your overall health. In other words, problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? These problems can vary from loss of teeth and gum disease to heart disease and diabetes.
Here in this article, you can protect yourself by learning more about the connection between your oral health and overall health.
Causes of Dental and Oral Diseases
Your mouth is exposed to millions of bacteria and viruses, most of them being harmless. But, it is also the entry point to your respiratory as well as digestive tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause chronic diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that there are more than 3.5 billion people globally who experience oral problems. The number is a little less than half of the world’s population.
You should maintain proper oral hygiene like daily brushing and flushing. This will help your immune system to keep these bacteria under control.
However, in the absence of proper oral hygiene, bacteria levels will be very high. Unfortunately, these high levels of bacteria lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Your diet high in sugar creates an ideal condition for acid-producing bacteria to flourish. This acid is harmful as it dissolves tooth enamel and causes dental cavities.
Bacteria around your gum line thrive in a sticky medium called plaque. Plaque accumulates, hardens, and migrates down the length of your tooth, forming tartar. If it isn’t removed regularly by brushing and flossing, it could be harmful.
The good news is that most of these oral problems can be prevented in your own household. Some of these common diseases include dental cavities, gum disease, oral infectious diseases, and oral cancer.
Most of these oral problems are preventable since they mostly result from unsafe conditions, unhygienic conditions, and accidents. It is important to know that if you are diagnosed, most of these oral problems can be treated successfully, especially if they are identified early.
The Link Between Oral Diseases and General Health
In recent years researchers have proved a connection between declining oral health and underlying systemic conditions. It has been proven that a healthy mouth can only help you maintain a healthy body.
Like other areas of your body, your mouth teems with the most harmless bacteria. But your mouth is the entry point to your respiratory and digestive and tracts. Some of these bacteria can cause disease.
Normally good oral health care and your body’s natural defenses system can keep these bacteria under control. Hence to keep your mouth clean, you need to brush and floss regularly.
However, without proper oral hygiene, these bacteria can reach levels that will cause oral infections, such as gum disease and tooth decay.
Your oral health might contribute to various diseases like:
1 Endocarditis or inflammation of the lining of the heart
Harmful bacteria can spread from your oral cavity to your bloodstream. These bacterias might cause infective endocarditis. Infective endocarditis is a common life-threatening disease infecting your heart valves.
2 Cardiovascular disease
Although the connection of your heart to oral health is not fully understood. Research suggests that heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries are interlinked. And heart diseases might be linked to the infections and inflammation that oral bacteria can cause.
Do you know that the risk of pneumonia is higher in groups with a higher number of dental cavities and missing teeth? Few types of germs in your mouth multiply rapidly and often trickle down into your lungs during sleep. These germs can then cause pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
4 Pregnancy and birth complications
Periodontitis, a severe gum disease, is said to be linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
Types of Dental and Oral Diseases
There are millions of bacterial cells in our mouth. Some of them are beneficial, while others could be very harmful. Bacteria is only one of the causes of the many oral problems that can affect us.
Most of your dental and oral problems can be prevented with proper oral hygiene. In such a scenario, you are likely to experience only one or two dental problems during your lifetime.
Some of the most common oral diseases include:
1 Tooth Cavities
The tooth cavities are also referred to as caries or tooth decay. These are sections of the tooth that are permanently damaged and might have developed holes.
Cavities are fairly common both in children and in adults. They occur when harmful bacteria, accumulated food, and acid coat your teeth and form a layer of plaque.
The acid on your teeth starts to eat away the top layer of enamel and then the underlying connective tissues. Over time, this often leads to permanent damage.
2 Gum disease or Gingivitis
Gum disease, also known as gingivitis, is the inflammation of the gums. It is usually the result of plaque building up on your teeth due to poor flossing and brushing habits.
Gingivitis might result in swollen gums, which might bleed when you brush your teeth. When plaque-causing bacteria builds up over time, it eventually leads to the development of gingivitis or periodontitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease.
If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, you need to take good care of your gums. It is a commonly occurring gum disease that is usually the result of neglecting to floss your teeth regularly.
As periodontitis progresses, the infection can badly spread to your jaw and bones. In addition, it can also cause an inflammatory response throughout your body. Untreated gingivitis in your mouth can lead to periodontitis, a more serious infection.
4 Oral Cancer
Oral cancer appears in the form of growth or a sore in the mouth that refuses to go away. They can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
They could lead to cancers of the cheeks, lips, tongue, sinuses, pharynx (throat), and floor of the mouth, hard and soft palate.
5 Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Halitosis or bad breath results from poor dental health habits and may be a precursor of other health problems. It can get aggravated by the types of foods you eat and other unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Odour can come from the teeth, mouth or as a result of an underlying health problem. The combination of the decaying food and bacteria in your mouth produces an unpleasant odour.
Brushing and flossing regularly remove trapped food before it decays.
The infection of tonsils is known as tonsillitis. Tonsils are two masses of tissue located at the back of your throat.
They act as filters, and they trap germs that would otherwise enter your body, thereby causing infection. Tonsils make antibodies to fight against infection. But sometimes, bacteria or viruses overwhelm them. Due to this, tonsils become swollen and inflamed.
Tonsillitis is common, especially in children. It can happen either once in a while or come back again and again in a short period.
7 Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are disorders of the temporomandibular joints and the surrounding jaw muscles.
These disorders occur when there is a problem with your jaw, jaw joint and adjoining facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, joints and bones from working together in harmony may result in TMD disorder.
8 Infectious Diseases – Oral Herpes
The most well-known infectious oral issue is called oral herpe. You might also know them as cold sores or fever blisters. These oral herpes viruses frequently show up in children aged between 6 months to 5 years of age.
Once the oral herpes virus enters the child’s systems, they will carry the virus throughout their lives. According to stats, about 50-80 percent of adults live with oral herpes.
If you are HIV-positive, you are more susceptible to fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. These infections might cause painful lesions to develop on your lips, under your tongue, and in the soft tissues inside your cheeks.
Diagnosing Dental and Oral Diseases
Dentists can diagnose most dental diseases during a dental examination. Your dentist will closely inspect your mouth, tongue, teeth, cheeks, throat, cheeks, and jaw. They will also check if you have sensitive teeth before planning a treatment.
During the diagnostic test, he may give a tap or scrape at your teeth with one of his instruments. He will also take dental X-rays of your mouth. If you are pregnant, inform your dentist beforehand so that he does not take X-rays for you.
He will use a probe to measure your gum pockets to check whether you have gum disease or have receding gums. If he discovers any abnormal lumps, lesions, or growths in your mouth, he may perform a gum biopsy to check for cancerous cells. There are several methods available today to diagnose any kind of oral disease.
Oral care does not just keep your teeth strong. It is about keeping your mouth free of disease. Some oral problems can be prevented by practicing good daily oral hygiene. All you need to do is to schedule regular dental screenings and avoid certain behaviors.
The other set of oral problems can result from tobacco use, unhealthy diets rich in sugar, violence, and other lifestyles that cause harm. By paying attention to your oral care and knowing what can result from inadequate oral care can positively affect your overall wellness.
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