Your oral cavity is connected to the rest of your body in more ways than you realize. Increasingly, research is showing that your dental health affects the rest of your wellbeing through a series of connections, some of which aren’t yet fully understood. Here are just a few ways your oral health can influence the rest of your body—and why it’s crucial to keep your smile as healthy as possible!
Bacteria in Your Oral Cavity Have Been Linked to Heart Problems
The oral cavity is full of different types of bacteria. Some of these bacteria are helpful while others are harmful. Bacteria in your mouth that have negative effects have been linked to problems such as:
- Heart disease
- Damage to blood vessels
- Blood clots
Oral bacteria could also lead to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke . While more research is needed to fully understand the link between oral health and heart health, having good oral hygiene is still important!
Gum Inflammation Can Affect Bodily Inflammation
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, causes inflammation in the oral cavity that can influence inflammation throughout the rest of the body. The bacteria involved in gum disease create an inflammatory response in your mouth that may influence your risk for vascular damage that affects the heart and the brain .
Again, while a direct connection hasn’t been established, there is substantial research to support the link between poor oral health and systemic conditions such as heart disease and chronic inflammatory conditions.
The Link Between Oral Health and Mental Health
Did you know your dental health can affect your state of mind as well? Some psychiatric disorders have been associated with tooth decay and gum disease . While the link isn’t clear, experts suggest reviewing the oral health of patients experiencing severe mental illness, as poor oral health can significantly impact the quality of life of patients and could potentially play a role in the outcome of treatment.
Tooth Infections Can Be Life-Threatening
If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to a painful infection that has the potential to be life threatening . Although rare, tooth abscesses can cause harmful oral bacteria to get into the bloodstream, which can then affect the brain and the heart. Early tooth decay is often asymptomatic, which makes getting regular exams with your dentist all the more important!
Take Care of Your Smile!
Taking care of your smile affects more than your appearance. Your oral health can affect your entire body and may even play a role in your mental health. As more research comes to light, medical professionals become ever more aware of the effect that the health of your teeth and gums has on your body!