Royce Shook

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What conditions can be linked to oral health?

Yesterday I said the Mayo Clinic made a link between oral hygiene and health so I need to expand on that idea. Certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and lead to disease.

Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) might play a role in some diseases. And certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

Your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:

· Endocarditis. This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.

· Cardiovascular disease. Although the connection is not fully understood, some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.

· Pregnancy and birth complications. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

· Pneumonia. Certain bacteria in your mouth can be pulled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

Certain conditions also might affect your oral health, including:

· Diabetes. By reducing the body's resistance to infection, diabetes puts your gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes.

· Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Regular periodontal care can improve diabetes control.

· HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.

· Osteoporosis. This bone-weakening disease is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Certain drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw.

· Alzheimer's disease. Worsening oral health is seen as Alzheimer's disease progresses.

Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers and an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth (Sjogren's syndrome).

Tell your dentist about the medications you take and about changes in your overall health, especially if you've recently been ill or you have chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

Oral health for everyone is more important than most people may realize. The risk factors of osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease and pneumonia also increase as we age, simply because we…age. 

Adding poor oral health to the mix just increases the chances more, so upping your toothbrushing, flossing game should be a priority.

What conditions can be linked to oral health?

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