Many people are unaware of the relationship, but in fact the condition of your mouth can have a considerable effect on your overall health. It can pay to try to understand how and why both are closely connected as this can help you protect your oral and general health.
Your mouth contains many different types of bacteria and most are harmless. Normal daily activities such as brushing and flossing help keep the numbers of bacteria under control, but a lack of proper oral hygiene increases the risk of infections such as gum disease and tooth decay. Taking certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can also increase these risks as many can reduce the amount of saliva produced. Saliva is immensely important for keeping your mouth clean as it helps wash away old skin cells, bacteria and old pieces of food, preventing bacterial overgrowth that could cause disease.
One of the main risks of poor oral hygiene is developing a condition called periodontitis or gum disease. This is an inflammatory disease and it’s suspected this inflammation could affect other general health conditions. In addition certain diseases that affect the immune system, in particular diabetes and HIV AIDS can lower the body’s resistance to infection, and this can make any oral health problems more difficult to control. The inflammation caused by periodontitis has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV AIDS and other conditions such as Sjögren’s syndrome and osteoporosis.
There have been lots of studies carried out into this link and it is thought to be due to the way inflammation causing bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream through bleeding gums that are characteristic of advanced gum disease. From there these bacteria can travel around the entire body, potentially causing new sites of inflammation. This can be particularly problematic for diabetics as poorly controlled blood sugar levels lead to excessive glucose in saliva which in turn feeds the inflammation causing bacteria, increasing the risk of gum disease and bleeding gums. Once the bacteria get into the bloodstream then diabetics can have increased difficulty in controlling blood sugar levels. So what can you do to protect yourself?
The answer is quite a lot, even if you have existing medical problems. The main thing to do is to get your mouth as healthy as possible and to have a good preventative dental care regime. This is where Bromley Dental Practice can help. Most people will need to visit Dr Zaki Bashir twice a year for regular check-ups and professional cleanings, but some people with existing medical conditions such as diabetes may benefit from more regular visits. It’s important to make sure your dentist in Bromley is aware of any medications you might be taking and any changes to your overall health. This is because they can work with you, and with your GP if necessary to help keep your mouth healthy, and to hopefully protect your general health.
In between dental visits make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day. Change your toothbrush regularly, every two or three months or sooner if the bristles begin to look frayed. If you do notice any changes to your oral health in between appointments, contact your Bromley dentist for more advice.