Health & Fitness

The Surprising Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Well-Being

Did you know that taking care of your teeth today could help you prevent Alzheimer’s in the future? Yes, recent studies show a strong link between poor oral health and the development and progression of cognitive decline from this disease. But that’s not where the connection between oral and overall health stops.

 

When your teeth and gums aren’t in optimal shape, there’s a good chance that unhealthiness will spread to other parts of your body. Since your mouth is connected to everything else as the starting point of the digestive system, it can be a good predictor of the rest of your wellness.

 

This isn’t simply an assumption, either. Scientists have found surprising connections between oral health and overall well-being, and we’ve summarized their findings here.

 

1. Infectious Bacteria Spread Through the Body

 

When you don’t brush and floss your teeth every day, it opens your mouth up to become a breeding ground for bacteria. These microorganisms are already on everything we touch, and some kinds are even essential for good gut health. But we need to control the size of the colonies that use our bodies for their homes, and that’s done through a cautious and thorough daily oral health regimen.

 

Thriving bacteria take over your gums, infecting them and leading to gingivitis, a mild but reversible gum disease. Left untreated, gingivitis spreads, becoming a gum infection called periodontitis, which causes gum inflammation and bone loss around the jaw.

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As it progresses, periodontitis also contributes to medical health conditions such as — but not limited to — cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, osteoporosis, and Type II diabetes.

 

2. Tooth Decay Leads to Low Self-Esteem

 

The acid and sugar left in your mouth will turn into plaque and tartar over time and eat away at the hard enamel protecting your teeth. This erosion turns into cavities, which need a sealant to keep the tooth from decaying further. 

 

This problem also happens when you grind your teeth at night, a condition called bruxism. Ongoing grinding wears away at the enamel, opening your teeth up to cavities and decay.

 

Without dental treatment for your cavities, the continued decay turns teeth yellow or brown and creates bad breath. Both of these side effects can make a person hesitant to show off their smiles and decrease their self-esteem.

 

An easy fix for grinding-related tooth erosion is a night guard. If you’re worried that you may have bruxism but can’t visit the dentist right away, check out this article by JS Dental Lab on the types of night guards you can get to save your teeth from the damage of tooth grinding.

 

3. Risk Factors of Poor Oral Hygiene Also Decrease Well-Being 

 

The factors that increase your risk of oral health issues, from cavities to tooth loss and periodontal disease, also contribute to general life dissatisfaction.

 

Systemic diseases that spread from tooth decay and gum infection are linked to those with poor diets, particularly those who indulge in a lot of sugary goods. If you’re a tobacco user or drink alcohol excessively, you’re also pre-disposed to poor oral health and a decrease in your general overall well-being.

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A lesser-known risk factor for tooth damage is stress. It’s easy to see how this factor makes your general well-being less healthy, but how is it linked to your oral health?

Stress and Your Oral Health

 

As mentioned earlier, bruxism causes substantial damage to the teeth and the side effects include headaches, neck and jaw pain, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) discomfort, and chronic fatigue. One of the biggest causes of this teeth grinding is stress.

 

Finding ways to reduce your stress can play a significant role in improving your well-being. Internal and external stressors cause your body to release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which lead to an inflammatory effect. 

 

While this action is designed as a protection against danger, chronic inflammation damages healthy cells and tissues. Eventually, this swelling can harm organs, cause internal scarring, and increase the risk of developing cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions.

 

Some stress can be a healthy motivator to keep us grounded in good behavior, like worrying about your oral health and practicing positive oral hygiene habits. But too much stress can be the reason you end up with tooth complications!

Conclusion

 

Once you start paying attention to the connections between your oral and overall health, it’s easy to see how they are linked. Protecting your mental and physical well-being begins with caring for your teeth. Brush and floss daily, eat a healthy diet free from heavy sugars and acids and reduce stress levels when possible. You’ll reap the benefits of a better life!

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