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  • Writer's pictureJenny Coetzee

Oral Health & General Well-Being

Good oral health has many benefits, not only for your mouth but your overall well-being.

Taking good care of your oral health goes far beyond keeping your teeth and gums healthy. It also improves your quality of life.

In recent years, poor oral health, specifically gum disease, has been linked with several general health conditions.

What problems could my oral health cause?

Problems which may be caused or made worse by poor oral health include:

  • Heart Disease.

  • Strokes.

  • Dental Health Problems

  • Diabetes.

  • Respiratory Disease.

How can the health of my mouth affect my heart?

People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery (heart) disease than people without gum disease.

When people have gum disease, it is thought that bacteria from the mouth can get into their bloodstream. The bacteria produce protein. This can then affect the heart by causing the platelets in the blood to stick together in the heart's blood vessels. This can make clots more likely to form. Blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, so the heart does not get all the nutrients and oxygen it needs.

If the blood flow is badly affected, this could lead to a heart attack.

What is the link between gum disease and strokes?

Several studies have looked at the connection between mouth infections and strokes.

They have found that people with a stroke are more likely to have gum disease than those without one.

How could diabetes affect my dental health?

People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without it. This is probably because people with diabetes are more likely to get infections in general.

People who do not know they have diabetes or whose diabetes is not under control are especially at risk.

If you have diabetes, any gum disease must be diagnosed because it can increase your blood sugar. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications.

Also, if you have diabetes, you may heal more slowly. If you have a problem with your gums or have problems after visits to your dentist, discuss this with your dental team before you have any treatment.

New research has also shown that you are more likely to develop diabetes if you have gum disease.

If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of losing teeth.

How could bacteria in the mouth affect my lungs?

Bacterial chest infections are thought to be caused by breathing in fine droplets from the throat and mouth into the lungs. This can cause infections, such as pneumonia, or worsen an existing condition.

People with gum disease have more bacteria in their mouths and may therefore be more likely to get chest infections.

This mainly affects frail older adults who may die from pneumonia caused by breathing in bacteria from their mouth. Therefore, good oral hygiene for this group of people is critical.

What signs should I look out for?

Visit your dentist if you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, which can include:

  • Inflammation of the gums causes them to be red, swollen and to bleed easily, especially when brushing.

  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth.

  • Bad breath.

  • Loose teeth.

  • Regular mouth infections.

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