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The Connection between your Oral Health and your General Well-being.

16th June 2023

Most people realise the importance of brushing their teeth but often don’t understand the impact poor oral health can have on general health.

There are many links between oral health and systemic diseases. Taking care of your oral hygiene impacts more than just your teeth. It can influence your overall well-being.

Periodontitis (known commonly as gum disease) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the supporting structures of the teeth. It affects your gums, the bone around the teeth and the connective tissues. Left untreated, the chronic state of infection and inflammation is not good for you and can trigger an inflammatory and immune response throughout the body. It potentially can contribute to the development or worsening of systemic diseases. I like to explain to my patients that if their forearm was chronically sore and bleeding, red and inflamed, they would want to do something about it and would realise that in the long term it should not be left untreated as it would impact their overall health. Your gums have a similar surface area, so you can well imagine the long-term effect of chronic inflammation of your gums on your overall health. Reducing inflammation is vitally important and good daily cleaning between your teeth plays a huge role as well as other risk factors for the disease.

Cardiovascular Health: There is a correlation between periodontitis and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke. The inflammation caused by gum disease may contribute to the formation of arterial plaques and narrowing of blood vessels.

Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes are more susceptible to infections, including periodontitis. The presence of gum disease can also make it more challenging to control blood sugar levels particularly so with type II diabetics. The relationship between diabetes and periodontitis is bidirectional, with each condition having the potential to affect the other. The links between type II diabetes and periodontitis are clear and have been undisputed for some time now, yet patients with type II diabetes are not always well informed of this connection. If you are newly diagnosed as a type II diabetic, it is well worth a trip to your dentist, hygienist or dental therapist to have your gum health checked out. Conversely, if you are having problems with gum disease, it is also worth double checking your diabetic status.

Connections have also been made with periodontitis and Alzheimer’s disease as well as gum disease and pregnancy complications. More research is needed around these conditions.

The link between periodontitis and systemic disease demonstrates the importance of looking after your oral health. Regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene regimes are vital to your overall well-being.

Having a healthy mouth is an integral part of your body’s health. We need to prioritise our oral hygiene and form good habits, in the same way that we need to prioritise a healthy diet and exercise regime. By doing this we have the potential to further reduce our risk of some systemic diseases and live a healthier lifestyle.

If you are due (or overdue!) an oral health examination, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the practice for a check-up with one of our dentists or dental therapists. We are here to help.

Posted in Blog

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