How Do Dental Problems Affect Overall Health?

About Oral Health and Overall Wellness

Medically speaking, your mouth and oral health in general can be a window into the condition of your overall health. Some oral health issues can point to nutritional deficiencies and bodily infections. Your mouth is full of bacteria, and most of it is harmless, but some forms of bacteria can lead to disease. Neglecting to practice oral hygiene is what leads to tooth decay and gum disease for many patients, which then affects other areas of the body. Another aspect of oral health that many patients are unaware of is the importance of saliva flow. Patients who have low saliva flow are more prone to a lower quality of life, and are at higher risk for developing periodontal disease. As we warn our patients, periodontal disease can lead to an array of other health issues. Some health issues that periodontal disease and poor oral health can cause include:

  • Cardiovascular disease

Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. The reason oral health and heart disease are connected is because the bacteria from the mouth spreads through to the blood stream. The result of this can be endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Gum disease has also been linked to atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries, or stroke.

  • Diabetes

Diabetes and gum issues are inextricably linked. Poor blood sugar control is a leading cause of both diabetes and gum disease. Nearly 22% of patients diagnosed with diabetes also have gum disease. High blood sugar affects individuals with diabetes, and high blood sugar allows bacteria to grow in the mouth. This bacteria forms plaque, which can eventually become tartar and lead to tooth decay and other oral health problems.

  • Dementia

Oral health issues like cavities and decay can lead to tooth loss, which leads to impaired chewing abilities and impacts one’s overall quality of life. When a patient is unable to chew properly, this can lead to malnutrition and an insufficient diet, which contributes to the development of dementia. Periodontitis also leads to local and systemic inflammation, which contributes to the development of dementia as well.

  • Respiratory infections

One fact that many people find surprising is that bacteria from gum disease can actually travel through the airways and into the lungs, causing life-threatening respiratory illnesses like pneumonia. In addition, patients who already have a respiratory condition should take extra care to avoid developing bacterial infections in their mouth. This is because their lungs are already vulnerable to bacteria. Other high-risk patients for respiratory infections caused by gum disease include the elderly, smokers, those with COPD, cancer patients, and HIV carriers.

  • Infertility

For women who are looking to get pregnant, caring for their oral health is one way to help their chances of conceiving. Good oral health can actually have a positive impact on how long it takes a woman to conceive. During pregnancy, poor oral health is also associated with gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm labor, and having a low birth weight baby. For men, gum disease and tooth decay are linked to poor semen and sperm health. This means that the link between poor oral health and infertility applies to both men and women.

  • Kidney disease

Tooth decay and gum disease can lead to infections that cause issues for people with kidney disease. For this reason, it is especially important for patients who have kidney disease to prevent oral health issues. When the body responds to infections like dental cavities and gum disease, the result is inflammation and a weakened immune system. These effects can encourage germs to spread throughout the body, which is particularly dangerous for patients with kidney disease.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Patients with gum disease are four times more likely to have Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by painful swelling in the joints, back, or muscles. Similarly to the way inflammation from gum disease affects those with kidney disease, oral bacteria heightens the risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis.

  • Cancer

Individuals with periodontal disease might have a higher risk of developing some forms of cancer. Periodontal disease has been linked to a 43% increased risk of esophageal cancer and a 52% increased risk of gastric cancer. Furthermore, among those who have periodontal disease, those with tooth loss are associated with a 59% increased risk of esophageal cancer compared to those without periodontal disease or tooth loss.

How to Overcome Dental Problems

At Austell Dental Associates, we offer both preventative and restorative services. If you are looking for a reliable, state-of-the-art dental team to perform your routine checkups and help keep your oral health on track, you have come to the right place. We believe that preventing oral disease begins at home and continues with regular examinations. That’s why we go above and beyond cleaning harmful plaque and tartar off the teeth to provide a thorough examination.

If problems do arise, our restorative dentistry services will help salvage your teeth and prevent the kind of damage that can lead to the issues above. We value the importance of restoring the function and appearance of your teeth because we know that the results can be life-altering for your overall health.

To schedule an appointment with Austell Dental Associates, call our office today at (770) 467-3888 or contact us online.


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