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Watch your Mouth!

Impact of good oral health on your overall well being

Taking extra effort to keep your teeth and gums healthy not only gives you a killer smile and confidence to face the world, but it can also keep you healthier and perhaps help you live longer.

The impact of good dental health on emotional well being and interpersonal relationships is well known and also highlighted often in popular media in advertisements with pretty girls and boys with lovely smiles. But, did you know that dental health can also have an impact on your overall physical health as well? Many physical illnesses have been linked to poor oral health. So it might be worthwhile to go that extra mile to take good care of your chompers.

Oral health and the gut

Our mouths are teeming with bacteria. Most are harmless but some can cause infections. The ratio of bad and good bacteria in the oral cavity needs to be maintained for good health. The mouth is the gateway to your digestive system, meaning these bacteria can easily enter the stomach and gut. Whenever there is

inflammation of the gums or poor oral hygiene, the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth increase. These can enter the gut and are linked to development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a disease where there is chronic inflammation and damage to the inner lining of the intestines.

Oral health and the heart

Certain strains of bacteria seen in periodontitis (infection of the gums that can cause irritation, pain and redness, tooth decay and tooth loss) have been linked to clogged arteries and risk of heart attacks. The exact reason for this link is not known and further research is on. Bacteria from the mouth can also enter the bloodstream and cause a life threatening inflammation of the heart valves and inner lining called endocarditis, especially in those with preexisting heart problems like faulty valves, pacemakers and past open heart surgery.

Oral health and the brain

A growing body of research has found that chronic infection of the gums and teeth can put a person at increased risk of Alzheimers disease in later life. In those with early stages of dementia, chronic gum disease can quicken the progress of senile plaques and neuroinflammation in the brain which are the main changes seen in Alzheimers disease.

Oral health and pregnancy

Dental health is one of the most neglected aspects of health during pregnancy. But bad oral health during pregnancy can cause higher risk of :

  • Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), where the baby in the womb does not grow at the expected rate

  • Preterm labor – onset of uterine contractions before 37 weeks are completed.

  • Gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension

  • Low birth weight baby

  • Miscarriages and stillbirths.

Oral health and diabetes

Poor oral health, periodontitis and tooth infections can make it difficult to control blood sugar levels. Moreover, diabetics are at higher risk of complications if they need to undergo dental procedures.

Oral health and Joints

Certain bacteria in your mouth that are known to cause periodontal disease may also act as a trigger for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). A bacteria called Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans has been shown to cause periodontitis. This bacteria releases certain proteins which can activate an inflammatory response by the immune cells in the body. This inflammatory response can trigger or aggravate rheumatoid arthritis.

So for the sake of your overall physical health, it is definitely worth it to invest a bit more effort in keeping your teeth and gums in top shape.

Here are some tips for improving oral health:

  • Don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth.

  • Brush twice a day for atleast 2 min each using a good quality toothbrush and fluoride tooth paste.

  • Remember to brush your tongue and remove any residue

  • Floss everyday or atleast thrice a week or after you have had a rich meal

  • Consider using a ph balanced mouth wash especially if you have hard to reach areas between teeth

  • Limit high sugar foods

  • Drink plenty of water. Dry mouth can increase the chance of gum infections

  • Don’t skip your annual visit to the dentist.

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