How the health of your mouth correlates to your general health

Did you know problems with your oral health can have greater implications for the rest of your body? Your mouth is the gateway to your digestive and respiratory systems, and it plays an important role in your overall health. It’s full of bacteria, and sometimes these bacteria can proliferate and cause disease elsewhere. In other instances, certain medical conditions can have an effect on your oral health. Let’s take a look.

Cardiovascular disease

The association between cardiovascular disease and oral health has been well documented. Studies have found there is an increased risk of atherosclerotic heart disease amongst individuals with chronic periodontitis (a chronic inflammatory disease caused by bacterial infection of the gums), independent of other cardiovascular risk factors (Dietrich et al., 2017). What’s more, the rate of tooth decay and tooth loss is higher in people with cardiovascular disease (Dietrich et al., 2017).

Pulmonary disease

Oral health has been linked to pulmonary disease, specifically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia. Interestingly, research by Manger et al. (2017) found the incidence of pneumonia could be reduced by employing certain oral hygiene measures, namely by using chlorhexidine or povidone iodine. Brushing one’s teeth was found to reduce the incidence, duration, and mortality from pneumonia in community and hospital patients (Manger et al., (2017)

Dementia

Oral conditions such as gingivitis, tooth decay and tooth loss may be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. A 2017 study by Daly et al. found people with poor oral health appeared to be more at risk of cognitive impairment. Failure to clean teeth and the presence of gingival inflammation may be risk predictors associated with the onset of dementia. However, further research is required.

Diabetes

Did you know that diabetes is associated with periodontal disease, tooth loss and oral cancer? According to a 2017 UK study, there is evidence that type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for periodontitis (D’Aiuto et al., 2017). People with diabetic complications such as neuropathy were also found to have poorer oral health (D’Aiuto et al., 2017).

On a positive note, periodontitis does not appear to be a risk factor for diabetes. There’s also evidence to suggest that improving oral health with periodontal care has a short-term positive impact on diabetes outcomes (D’Aiuto et al., 2017).

How to protect your oral health

  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily using toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • Floss regularly.
  • Use mouthwash.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and replace it at least every three months.
  • Book in for a dental check-up with us every six months.

We’re here to help!

In this article, we’ve covered just a few examples of medical conditions that are associated with oral health. Oral bacteria have also been linked to rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, oesophageal cancer, stroke and periodontal problems in pregnant women (Jia et. Al, 2018).

If you’re due for a check-up, please book in today! Remember, poor oral hygiene not only affects your teeth, it can have wider consequences for your general health. To make an appointment, please click here or call (03) 8521 0777.

References:

D’Aiuto, F., Gable, D., Syed, Z., Allen, Y., Wanyonyi, K., White, S. and Gallagher, J. (2017). Evidence summary: The relationship between oral diseases and diabetes. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28642531 [Accessed 1 Sep. 2019].

Daly, B., Thompsell, A., Sharpling, J., Rooney, Y., Hillman, L., Wanyonyi, K., White, S. and Gallagher, E. (2018). Evidence summary: the relationship between oral health and dementia.. [online] NCBI. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321458231_Evidence_summary_The_relationship_between_oral_health_and_dementia [Accessed 2 Sep. 2019].

Dietrich, T., Webb, I., Stenhouse, L., Pattni, A., Ready, D., Wanyonyi, K., White, S. and Gallagher, J. (2017). Evidence summary: the relationship between oral and cardiovascular disease. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28281612 [Accessed 1 Sep. 2019].

Jia, G., Zhi, A., Lai, P., Wang, G., Xia, Y., Xiong, Z., Zhang, H., Che, N. and Ai, L. (2018). The oral microbiota – a mechanistic role for systemic diseases. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29569607 [Accessed 1 Sep. 2019].

Manger, D., Walshaw, M., Fitzgerald, R., Doughty, J., Wanyonyi, K., White, S. and Gallagher, J. (2017). Evidence summary: the relationship between oral health and pulmonary disease. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28387268 [Accessed 2 Sep. 2019].

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