Oral health is often taken for granted but it can give us an insight to our overall health. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that 60 – 90% of all children and almost 100% of adults have cavities. WHO also states that 15 - 20% of people aged 35 – 44 suffer from severe periodontal disease. Even with these astonishing numbers there is something we can do about it.
Oral health often plays an important role in the overall health of our bodies. Periodontal disease is prevalent in all age groups and can range from minor to severe. When we have poor dental hygiene practices the bacteria that occurs naturally in our mouth can become a problem. Brushing, flossing, and regular checkups with our dentist keep the bacteria at a healthy level but without these practices the bacteria grows and grows and grows. With this over growth of bacteria our gums become inflamed leading to periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease even it its early stages (gingivitis) can cause major health problems. The swelling of the gums and the bacteria that causes it can lead to the spread of the bacteria through the blood stream. The bacteria can then settle in different places in your body. This can lead to endocarditis or bacteria surrounding the heart. It can also lead to premature and low-weight births.
On the other end of the health spectrum, there are diseases that can lead to oral health problems. Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s to name a few. If you suffer from these conditions, it is important to tell your dentist and to maintain your treatment regimen. It is also important to tell your dentist what medications you are on as some can cause dry mouth leading to a buildup of bacteria in your mouth.
To maintain a healthy mouth there are several things you can do. You can brush your teeth twice a day. Remember to floss at least once a day. You can schedule and attend all dental cleanings and checkups. If you have any preexisting conditions, you can treat and maintain them. Eating healthy and not smoking are also very important factors in oral health. Making sure you inform your dentist and your physician of any problems or conditions can also help to maintain a healthy smile. And lastly, always remember that the health of your mouth relates to the health of your mind and body. Mind, body and mouth all must be taken care of for optimal health.