The Role of Oral Health in Overall Well-Being: Exploring the Mouth-Body Connection

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy isn’t just about your appearance. Research shows a strong correlation between oral health and overall well-being, meaning your smile has more to do with your health than you might think.

As we learn more about the connection between dental health and the body, we understand how a holistic approach to health is key to living a long, healthy life.

Let’s explore the mouth-body connection more closely and how taking care of your teeth and gums may just help you live a healthier life.

The Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Numerous studies have established a relationship between gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, and certain systemic conditions, including heart disease.

Research suggests that gum disease can cause inflammation in the body and make it more difficult to maintain a healthy heart. Although no causal link has been proven, what we do know is that people with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack or another serious cardiovascular event.

If you have heart disease or are at high risk for heart disease, it’s essential to take good care of your teeth and gums to potentially lower your risk of complications.

Impact of Oral Health on Pregnancy and Infant Health

Expecting a baby is an exciting time, but being pregnant can also increase your risk of oral health problems. Since research shows a connection between the oral health of the mother and infant health, it’s crucial to take proper care of your smile to protect your baby.

Research shows a connection between untreated gum disease in pregnant women and complications such as preterm birth and low birth weight. Whether you had gum disease before you became pregnant or developed it during your pregnancy, it’s essential to have the condition treated.

It’s safe to treat gum disease while you are expecting and may even help you have a healthier pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Gum Disease and Diabetes in Asheville

The relationship between gum disease and diabetes is two-fold. On one hand, people with untreated diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease because of the higher glucose (sugar) levels in their saliva. On the other hand, people with gum disease may also have more trouble controlling their diabetes because the inflammation associated with gum disease can cause insulin resistance.

In addition to its relationship with gum disease, diabetes can cause poor wound healing in the mouth and increase your risk of oral thrush, an infection that can cause painful lesions in the oral cavity. Due to its impact on glucose levels, it’s imperative to treat gum disease if you have diabetes or are at high risk for the disease.

The Association Between Oral Health and Cognitive Decline

Increasing evidence suggests a link between poor oral health and conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies show that gum disease and tooth loss are associated with an increased risk of cognitive disorders. Researchers have found oral bacteria involved in gum disease in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, suggesting that the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and end up in the brain. Once in the brain, these bacteria can harm nerve cells, leading to the memory loss seen in cognitive decline.

Cognitive impairment such as that seen in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can also make it more challenging for affected individuals to care for their teeth and gums, which can also increase their risk for oral health problems and systemic health issues.

Dental Health and Immunity

Having an oral infection such as gum disease can weaken the immune system. When the body is spending energy fighting gum disease, it makes it more challenging to fight off infections in other parts of the body.

Research shows that patients with periodontal disease are more likely to develop cancer, autoimmune disorders, and even mental health issues such as depression and anxiety than people without gum disease. Although the link between gum disease and these disorders is not yet known, chronic inflammation and an impacted immune system may play a role.

Oral Health and Nutrition

Cavities, tooth loss, tooth pain, and loose teeth can lead to difficulties in properly chewing food, which can impact your overall nutrition.

When people are not able to consume a balanced diet or properly chew their food to prepare it for digestion, it can interfere with nutrient intake and cause digestive issues, making it more likely that a person would suffer from nutrient deficiencies.

Nutrient deficiencies don’t just impact your body, but can lead to issues with your teeth and gums as well. For example, lack of vitamin C and protein can negatively impact gum health, while not getting enough calcium or vitamin D can lead to weaker tooth enamel.

Taking excellent care of your teeth helps ensure you can chew your food properly and get the nutrients you need, not just for healthy teeth and gums but for a healthy body as well.

Respiratory Illnesses and Oral Bacteria

Bacteria are a normal and natural part of the oral cavity. Our mouths are designed to keep oral bacteria in balance, but a diet high in added sugar and poor oral health can lead to an increase in the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.

These bacteria can actually be inhaled into the lungs, which can increase your risk of respiratory infections, including pneumonia, and conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is especially true for patients who are already at high risk for these diseases.

Take the Best Care of Your Smile With Saunders DDS

The mouth-body connection and ongoing research highlight the profound impact of oral health on overall well-being. Taking care of your smile can help you properly care for your body and potentially reduce your risk for major health problems.

It’s never too late to start taking excellent care of your smile to protect your teeth, gums, and your body. Whether you’re due for a checkup or experiencing a  dental emergency, don’t wait to seek the care you need for a healthier you. Start your journey to a healthier smile and body by contacting Saunders DDS today. Call us at (828) 277-6060 or reach us online to request an appointment.

Take control of your oral health today with Saunders DDS in Asheville. Schedule your appointment now for periodontal gum treatment and achieve a healthier smile and body!