A good oral health is an important key to improving overall health. We always believe that oral health is an independent undertaking, but rarely do we know that oral health may affect the rest of the body.
The mouth contains millions of bacteria that are considered normal flora of the mouth. Most of these microorganisms are harmless, but they tend to proliferate and cause problems in the mouth when there is poor oral care. These bacterial usually proliferate and become pathogenic when a person does not employ regular brushing or flossing. Good oral care prevents build-up of food debris in the mouth, which attracts more bacteria to dwell in the oral cavity.
When harmful bacteria proliferate in the mouth, they may cause various conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay. When the normal protective barriers of the mouth are disrupted, the bacteria may travel through the blood stream that may cause various diseases in other organs such as:
- Cardiovascular diseases
The presence of stroke, heart disease and myocardial infarction has been linked to oral diseases. Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, may cause chronic inflammation affecting the blood vessels leading to disruption in the normal circulation contributing to vascular diseases.
Endocarditis is the inflammation of the inner layer of the heart muscle, the endocardium. When bacteria in the mouth travel through the blood stream, they may proliferate and infect the inner lining of the heart causing damage to the heart valves. Heart valve damage may eventually lead to more serious complications such as congestive heart failure.
Problems concerning the cardiovascular system are the common effect of poor oral health. Aside from these, people who do not floss or brush regularly may also experience other complications such as Alzheimer’s disease, immune system disorders, low birth weight infant and premature birth.
People who have lost some of their teeth before the age of 35 years have increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease because the bacteria in the mouth may also affect the circulation to the brain. Bacterial growth in the blood as a result of poor oral health may also lead to affectation of the immune system. Furthermore, dental problems such as tooth decay and periodontal disease may affect pregnant women as the bacteria travels through the placenta leading to low birth weight and possible premature delivery.
With these examples, oral health truly affects the rest of the body systems. The seemingly simple problem on dental hygiene may lead to more serious complications. Nevertheless, these effects on the overall health may be prevented through good oral hygiene involving the following:
- Brushing the teeth after meals
- Visiting the dentist twice a month
- Eating healthy foods that protect the mouth such as Vitamin C rich foods, fluorinated water and calcium rich foods and beverages
- Replacing your tooth brush every months
- Flossing after meals
As much as brushing is important, flossing is also essential to promote oral health. Flossing removes food debris in between the teeth that brushing cannot remove. In fact, most of the dental problems such as tooth decay are caused by food collecting in between the teeth that were removed by brushing. Food that collects in the teeth also causes bacteria build-up that may lead to gingivitis and periodontal diseases.
In line with these, flossing is very important to promoting oral health as well as overall health by preventing dental infections that may cause other systemic conditions.
Dr. Mohr, your Wesley Chapel chiropractor, believes in taking an overall approach to your health, and flossing is just one of the many ways you can move toward that goal.