The simple answer to this question is - yes! Your oral/dental health can absolutely affect your general health because your entire body is interconnected. Oral health refers to the health of the teeth, gums, and entire oral-facial system that allows us to chew, talk and smile.
While a cavity or infected pulp may not directly affect your endocrine system, extreme gum disease and other oral conditions can impact your overall health & well-being beyond just your mouth. Here are some of the main oral diseases that impact our oral health:
Oral Health Diseases
Some of the most common diseases that can impact our oral health include cavities (tooth decay), gum (periodontal) disease, and oral cancer.
Cavities (Tooth Decay)
Cavities are also known as caries or tooth decay. These are areas of the tooth that have been permanently damaged and may even have holes in them. Cavities occur when bacteria, food, and acid coat your teeth and form a plaque. The acid on your teeth starts to eat away at the enamel and then the underlying dentin, or connective tissue. Over time, this can lead to permanent damage.
Cavities are pretty common, with more than 90% of adults having had a cavity at some point in their life.
Gum (Periodontal) Disease
Gum disease, also commonly referred to as gingivitis, is inflammation of the gums, usually a result of plaque building up on the teeth due to poor brushing habits. Gingivitis can make your gums swell and bleed when you brush or floss, and untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more serious infection.
Certain chronic conditions increase someone's risk for periodontal disease including diabetes, a weakened immune system, poor oral hygiene, and heredity.
More than 45% of adults in the UK are currently being affected by gum disease, which has the potential to seriously impact their quality of life. The easiest way to stay on top of your dental hygiene is to brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste - it’s simple! Shop Brush Fresh’s environmentally friendly dental products here and help keep your mouth free from plaque build up.
Oral cancers include cancer of the gums, lips, cheek, tongue, floor of mouth and hard & soft palate, and are usually a result of high risk behaviours, such as cigarette, cigar or pipe smoking, use of smokeless tobacco, and excessive use of alcohol.
How Does Poor Oral Health Affect Health?
Our oral health has risen in importance over recent years, as researchers have discovered a strong connection between poor oral health and underlying systemic conditions. Studies show that a healthy mouth can in fact help you maintain a healthy body, so taking care of your oral health is just as important as taking care of the rest of you.
Here are just some ways in which poor oral health can affect general health:
- Heart disease
- Pregnancy complications
- Inflammatory conditions
1. Heart Disease
Heart disease doesn’t discriminate, and is the leading cause of death for several populations, including white people, Hispanic people, and Black people.
Studies have shown a correlation between gum disease (periodontitis) and an increased risk of heart disease. This is because the bacteria from inflammation of gum infections can enter the bloodstream and travel to the arteries in the heart, potentially leading to cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, stroke or endocarditis (inflammation of the heart’s inner lining).
Poor oral health can make it much more difficult for individuals with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels, leaving the patient at risk of complications from diabetes. People with diabetes may also experience slower healing, which can affect the mouth's ability to recover from oral surgeries or other dental procedures associated with poor oral health and oral diseases.
Conversely, patients with diabetes are also often more susceptible to infections, and therefore more vulnerable to getting periodontal disease.
3. Pregnancy Complications
When a woman is pregnant, they will go through a number of various hormonal changes, making an expectant mother’s gums more vulnerable to oral infections. And it’s these infections that can result in pregnancy complications, just as they would form any other infection in the body.
Additionally, studies have shown that pregnant women with gum disease are more susceptible to premature birth and having low birth weight babies. It’s therefore absolutely essential to practise proper dental hygiene throughout pregnancy to avoid serious health issues for both the mother and baby.
According to emerging research, dental health can also impact how long it takes a woman to conceive. And in men, gum disease and tooth decay have been linked to poor semen and sperm health.
4. Inflammatory Conditions
Chronic oral infections and inflammation, such as periodontitis, can contribute to systemic inflammation, which is linked to various chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular conditions, certain cancers, and more.
Poor oral health can also aggravate autoimmune diseases, which is where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. The persistent inflammation in the mouth may trigger or worsen autoimmune conditions.
This is one that might come as a surprise. Experts have found dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can result from periodontal disease and gingivitis.
This is because bacteria from the mouth can spread into the nerve channels or enter the bloodstream, resulting in brain cell death that leads to memory loss.
Additionally, persistent oral infections can weaken the immune system, making people more prone to infections and inflammatory conditions that can impact cognitive function.
How To Improve Your Oral Health
As every part of our body can affect other parts of our body, we should be taking care of every single inch of ourselves. Ensuring you have a good oral hygiene routine will do wonders for your mouth from a dental perspective, which should, in turn, keep the rest of your body smiling as well.
There are a number of things you can do to keep your teeth healthy and prevent oral diseases, for example brushing your teeth properly, flossing, avoiding too much sugar and acidic drinks/foods, avoiding products containing tobacco & seeking professional dental care.
Interestingly, only 1 in 10 people actually brush their teeth correctly. And as brushing your teeth is one of the most effective ways to prevent oral diseases, this figure is pretty alarming!
If you think you might be one of those people who might not be brushing correctly, not to worry, keep reading!
Tips for Properly Brushing Your Teeth
Here are some of our top tips for properly brushing your teeth:
Ensure you’re brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste - once in the morning and once at night. But if fluoride isn’t your thing, here is our guide for choosing the right toothpaste.
Take your time to rotate the toothbrush in gentle, circular motions.
Aim your bristles at a 45 degree angle and make sure they dip below the outer surface of your gums.
Don’t brush too hard, as this can cause gum recession and tooth sensitivity. Apply gentle pressure.
Don't rush! Studies have shown that it takes around 2 minutes for a proper effective brush. Remember, if any plaque is left on the teeth it can harden, leading to calculus buildup and gingivitis (early gum disease).
Choose the right toothbrush for you and your dental health.
- Switch your toothbrush every few months.. Regardless of the type of toothbrush you have, whether that be natural bamboo toothbrushes or plastic toothbrushes, they all have a similar lifespan of around 3-4 months.
And for a whole load of tips on how to brush your children’s teeth, check out our blog.
Keep your oral health in good condition with Brush Fresh’s eco-friendly dental products:
These tubeless, natural & vegan toothpaste tablets are perfect for everyday use, travel (hand luggage friendly & leak proof) and most of all to better your oral health! This product shows that we can be both healthy for ourselves, and healthy to the environment.
Learn how to use toothpaste tablets here.
Our bamboo toothbrushes are a great choice if you’re looking for an effective brushing routine, without harming the environment. Some of its key features include:
- BPA free
- Blunted bristle tips ensure they do not cause tooth wear and abrasion
- Cruelty free
- Fully biodegradable
- Sustainable and ethically sourced
Brush Fresh Co. is founded and run by a group of UK-based dentists, who specialise in environmentally-friendly and sustainable dental products. From biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes to zero waste toothbrush tablets, our product range has been designed to put both your dental health and the environment first. For more information and dental care advice, head over to our blog page or get in contact with us here.
Written by Kate, on behalf of Brush Fresh Co - the UK's Dental Experts Providing eco-friendly dental care.