It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. More and more research is showing the mouth is the window to good health. Links have been established between poor oral health and maladies ranging from cardiovascular disease to osteoporosis. More and more information is coming to light, indicating that one way to ensure good overall health is to take care of your mouth.
Setting the Stage
The mouth is a hang-out for bacteria. In fact, there are more bacteria in your mouth than there are people living on Planet Earth. Most of them are harmless and even help with bodily processes like digestion. A few of them, however, are rowdy, harmful bacteria.
Under the normal run of things, the body’s natural defenses along with regular oral care are enough to keep the bad bacteria in check. However, poor oral care or dental procedures that reduce saliva flow can throw off the bacterial balance and cause infection. This, in turn, makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. And that is bad news.
The Malevolent Seven
Here’s a list of seven health conditions that have links to poor oral health.
- Endocarditis – Bacteria from the mouth combined with a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve can lead to infection in other parts of the body. Endocarditis occurs when the inside lining of the heart gets infected.
- Cardiovascular disease – Some research points to oral bacteria as a possible cause of heart disease, stroke, and clogged arteries.
- Premature birth and low birth weight
- Diabetes – Inflammation in the mouth seems to weaken the body’s ability to control blood sugar.
- Alzheimer’s disease – People who lose teeth before the age of 35 have a higher risk of suffering Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
- Osteoporosis – This disease, which causes bones to become weak and brittle, has been linked to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Mineral loss that accompanies osteoporosis can leave teeth more susceptible to oral bacteria.
- Leukemia – This form of cancer can first manifest itself as swollen, bleeding gums.
Protect Yourself Before You Wreck Your Health
Taking care of your mouth isn’t that difficult. There are a few very simple steps that can ensure good oral health.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss once a day.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 – 4 months.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks.
- Don’t use tobacco. If you do, make sure you see your dentist regularly.
- Schedule regular dental check up every six months.