Most people are familiar with common oral health issues like tooth decay, cavities, or gingivitis. However, there are other common diseases that can affect your body as a whole. The connection between mouth health and overall health is increasingly recognized, and dentists are integrating it into their practices.
What relationship is there between oral and general health?
There is a close relationship between oral and general health. Several oral diseases can affect your general health. The bacteria, viruses, and other microbes present in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and cause infections in other parts of your body. It can also cause inflammation in other parts of the body, making you ill.
What diseases can be caused by oral health?
There are many diseases that oral health problems can cause. The following are the most common ones:
Heart disease: Heart disease is usually caused by atherosclerosis, which occurs when plaque forms on the walls of arteries. This plaque consists of cholesterol, fats, calcium deposits from blood clotting, and dead cells from the artery wall. If the plaque ruptures or blocks an artery completely, it will lead to a heart attack or stroke. The American Heart Association states that heart disease is responsible for one out of four deaths in the United States.
Cancer: Oral cancer is caused by malignant cells that take over healthy cells in your mouth and cause them to grow uncontrollably. This cancer can spread to parts of your head and neck area as well as lymph nodes on either side of your neck. These malignant cells can also spread to other parts of your body like the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, making them very dangerous to treat.
Diabetes: Diabetes is a chronic disorder where your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use it properly. Insulin allows sugar from carbohydrates to enter cells where it’s used for energy. When you have diabetes, sugar doesn’t enter cells properly, because of which you have high sugar levels in your blood, leading to many complications like heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, etc.
Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a condition where your airway gets blocked during sleep due to the relaxation of muscles in the back of the throat. This leads to temporary reductions or complete stoppage of breathing during sleep, which affects the quality of sleep, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness and other complications like high blood pressure, etc.
How does Oral Health affect General Health?
The bacteria that cause gingivitis and periodontitis also cause tooth decay (cavities). When left untreated for a long time, cavities could lead to tooth loss or decay of teeth roots, leading to teeth sensitivity and pain when chewing food. Maintaining good nutrition leads to a change in general health like weight gain or loss as well as other complications like fatigue and headaches.
To know more about how oral health affects general health, visit us at Helena, MT or call us at (406) 443-6160 to schedule an appointment with the dentist and we will be happy to help.