The Link Between Oral Health and Overall Health
Oral health is an integral part of every human body's holistic health and well-being. Unsurprisingly, our mouths are the entry point to most things that go into our bodies. The mouth is also the first part of the digestive system and respiratory systems of our body. Oral health encompasses the condition of our mouth, gums, teeth, and orofacial structures, which enable us to perform different important bodily functions like eating, speaking, and breathing.
Besides biological functions, oral health also contributes to the betterment of psychosocial dimensions such as self-confidence and the ability to socialize and work without pain or embarrassment. An example of this would be low self-confidence experienced by someone who has braces or visible cavities or yellow teeth, which may affect their ability to speak with confidence. Even bad mouth odor can contribute to low self-confidence. Therefore, oral health does not only affect our internal bodily function but also our external well-being.
Any imbalance in oral health contributes to oral diseases and other uncomfortable conditions such as tooth loss, periodontal disease, oral cancer, dental trauma, cleft lip, or any other such birth defects. According to the WHO, oral diseases are one of the most common non-communicable diseases in the world, affecting around 3.5 billion people around the world. It is important to understand the connection between oral health and overall health so that you can avoid oral diseases and ensure that your oral health does not contribute to any other diseases or bodily discomfort.
What is a healthy mouth?
Your mouth starts with your lips and ends at your throat. A healthy mouth entails having moist tissues which are free from any pain or odor. The gums are not supposed to be red and swollen and should not bleed when your brush your teeth or floss. A healthy mouth will also not have any teeth decay or cavities, nor should there be any lumps, ulcers, or unusual coloring anywhere in the mouth. A healthy mouth means that it does not hurt when your chew or brush your teeth.
Oral Health and Nutrition
A fully functional, disease-free human body requires eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and protein. Often, any kind of oral health issue, like dental pain, ulcers, or dental cavities, can adversely affect the eating habits of a person. If you experience any such issues, you will know that such oral health issues limit your ability to eat certain kinds of foods which might be rich in essential nutrients. Further, oral diseases may also lead to people eating fewer meals, which further inhibits the intake of adequate amounts of nutrients in the body. Due to this, oral health issues can result in malnutrition. It is important to ensure you have good oral health because nutrient absorption begins in your mouth, and if you suffer from any deficiencies or other imbalances which may contribute to inflammation, bad oral health could potentially lead to chronic inflammation and, consequently, other diseases.
The connection between Oral Health and Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is a serious neurological disease that affects 1 in 10 adults above the age of 65. It results in memory loss, dementia, and the loss of the ability to function independently. A study done by doctors and researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry found that the mice that were exposed to gum diseases suffered from neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, and senile plaque formation, which were similar to Alzheimer's diseases in human beings. The research suggests that chronic oral bacterial infection may be a risk factor for the sporadic form of Alzheimer's disease.
Oral Health and General Health
Oral affects many basic human functions like speaking and smiling. If our oral health is not good, we may experience low self-confidence. It can further be detrimental to a person's idea of self-image and their sense of holistic well-being. Our oral cavity, or the entirety of our mouth, involves numerous other parts like gums, tissues, and nerves. They allow us to speak, taste, swallow, sigh, chew, or even cry out in pain or laugh out in joy. It is integral to our body and our overall well-being.
Although unclear, periodontal diseases are also a risk factor for many other problems like the onset of diabetes, issues around pregnancy, and myocardial refraction. This is why oral health is also seen as a source of early detection of other medical issues. For instance, saliva is used to assess hormones, environmental toxins, antibodies, and the effect of certain medications. Thus, the connection between oral health and our general health cannot be ignored. It is necessary to pay attention to your oral health and ensure that your lifestyle involves practices that contribute positively to your oral health and, consequently, your overall well-being.
Oral health is one of the leading indicators of your general health. If your oral health is good, you can prevent malnutrition, diseases such as Alzheimer's, obesity, pre-diabetes, or other such chronic diseases, as bad oral health is a risk factor for the same. That is why it is very important to get teeth cleaning service from your dentist every once in a while. Most oral health issues, such as tooth decay, ulcers, or other periodontal diseases, are preventable. While genetics also play a role, poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, eating processed foods, and practicing poor oral hygiene are all factors that contribute to oral diseases. Therefore, if you want to be healthy and ensure that your oral health does not cause any illnesses or discomfort in your life, the first step to take would be to practice good oral hygiene and treat any oral health issues that might be adversely affecting your general health.