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Oral and overall health – get the connection

Oral and overall health connection

Your dental health is part of a bigger picture: whole-body wellness. Unhealthy teeth and gums are often found in combination with heart disease and other life-threatening conditions, and many health issues can also affect your oral health.

Research is providing further evidence of the connections between the mouth and some of society’s most costly and deadly systemic diseases. The information underscores the importance of using the mouth as a tool for preventive health according to a Dentistry Today article.

  • Diabetes – People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease (swollen, red, infected gums) and tooth loss. Researchers think this occurs because diabetes reduces the body’s overall resistance to infection.
  • Cancer – During your dental exam, ask your dentist to conduct an oral cancer screening to help detect lumps or other changes in your throat, neck, jaw, skin or thyroid.
  • Heart disease – If you have moderate to advanced gum disease, you’re more likely to have cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, than someone with healthy gums. Studies have not shown that one condition causes the other, but the two conditions share many risk factors, such as smoking, poor diet and diabetes.
  • Kidney disease – Chronic bad breath, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and dry mouth are often signs of this condition. When the kidneys don’t function properly, the by-products of incomplete protein breakdown are released, causing an unpleasant taste or mouth odor.
  • Anxiety – Did you know that anxiety can affect your oral health? Stress affects the immune system, reducing your body’s defense against the bacteria that can lead to gum infection.

Other medical conditions that your dentist may detect include: thyroid problems, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep and breathing disorders, skin rashes, bruxism (teeth grinding), HIV, tuberculosis, drug abuse, anorexia, digestive disorders and upper respiratory problems.

Remember: Giving your mouth the same attention you give the rest of your body can really pay off in the long run. Make an appointment with your dentist today.

Related reading

Last updated: March 2017
Source: Oral-Systemic Health. American Dental Association. Accessed March 2017. Article: Importance of Oral Health to Overall Health. Academy of General Dentistry. Accessed March 2017. Article: Metabolic Diseases Significantly Alter Oral Bacteria. Dentistry Today. Accessed March 2017.

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. You should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.