How Poor Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

One of the most basic principles in human health is that all of our body’s systems are interrelated. An injury or illness in one part of your body is likely to influence other aspects of your health as well.

This certainly holds true for oral health. Our teeth, gums and jaws are not hermetically sealed off from the rest of our body, so poor oral hygiene can initiate or accelerate health challenges elsewhere. The relationship between poor oral health and poor health in general is often bi-directional; that is, problems in our mouth can cause our overall health to suffer, and vice versa.

Conditions That Illustrate the Oral Health – Overall Health Relationship

  1. Gum disease and men’s health. Surveys report that more than a third of all men aged 30 to 54 have some form of gum disease, which can increase their risk of pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer and blood cancers.
  2. Hormone levels and women’s oral health. Women experience varying levels of estrogen and progesterone in their bodies throughout their life. Surges of these hormones in adolescent females can influence the development of gum disease; declining levels of estrogen in menopause can put a woman at risk for dry mouth and bone loss in her jaw.
  3. Heart disease and oral inflammation. Even if you brush and floss at home daily, neglecting regular professional dental cleanings may place you at risk for heart disease. Making sure you receive these deep cleanings and that your dentist monitors your mouth for signs of periodontal (gum) disease can reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
  4. Canker sores and high stress situations. Canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, can be caused by being exposed to prolonged periods of stress. Students taking final exams often report a higher rate of canker sores than during graduation or on vacation. It is possible that the students also neglect their oral health during finals, which compounds their propensity toward contracting this condition.

“Poor oral health impacts more than your smile or your appearance – it can cause or aggravate medical conditions throughout your body,” says Dr. Melanie Bauer, a dentist in practice at Dr. Carol Ford & Associates in central Phoenix. “Regular checkups and cleanings are an indispensable part of taking care of your health.”


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