Mind Your Mouth: Healthy Mouth, Healthy you!
Maintaining your oral hygiene is of utmost importance than you might perceive. It can affect your general health and is essential to maintain well-being at every phase of life. A healthy mouth provides nourishment to body and also endorses self-esteem and feeling of well-being. Oral cavity is rich in bacteria and like other parts of the body, it teams up with bacteria and can cause disease risk. Your mouth is a window to overall heath which serves as a helpful vantage point for detecting early signs and symptoms of systemic disease. Systemic conditions such as AIDS or diabetes often first become apparent in the mouth. In fact, as stated by the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms. The presence of many constituents (e.g., alcohol, nicotine, opiates, drugs, hormones, environmental toxins, antibodies) in the body can also be detected in the saliva.
Condition of oral hygiene has an impact on overall health. Bacteria from the oral cavity can cause infection in other body parts, when the immune system has been compromised due to diseases or medical treatments (e.g., infective endocarditis). Systemic conditions and their treatment can also have an impact on oral health (e.g., reduced saliva flow, altered balance of oral microorganisms).
Certain medications namely decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can cause reduction in saliva flow. Saliva helps to wash off food and neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, thus helping to safeguard us from microbes that proliferate and can lead to disease. It is also one of your body’s main defences against disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. It contains antibodies as well as various enzymes and proteins called histatins, which inhibit the growth of fungus – Candida albicans. When these antibodies and proteins are weakened by various infections or other illness, bacteria/fungus can grow out of control, resulting in various infections.
Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and inflammation are associated with a severe form of gum disease called as periodontitis which might play a role in some diseases. And researchers have also shown that some diseases like diabetes and HIV/AIDS make oral health problems more severe by lowering resistance of body to infections.
Hence, mouth and body together accentuate the importance of the integration of oral health into holistic general health policies and of the adoption of a collaborative “Common Risk Factor Approach” for oral health promotion.
How Oral Health Affects Overall Health
The role oral health play in some systemic diseases:- diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, pregnancy oral health problems, preterm birth, pneumonia, cancer etc. Diabetes and oral hygiene – as we all know about delayed healing in diabetic patients hence, they are at higher risk to develop periodontal problems namely loose teeth, swollen/bleeding gums, difficulty in munching and even tooth loss.
Pregnancy and oral hygiene – due to change in hormonal level and prescribed medications (vitamins, calcium, folic acid), they become prone to various periodontal problems namely swollen/bleeding gums leading to pregnancy tumor or pyogenic granuloma. Periodontitis is being linked to premature birth and low birth weight. Chewable multivitamins leads to dental caries. Any treatment during gestation period is avoided for the safety of foetus hence keeping oral hygiene must be a priority.
Cardiovascular diseases and oral hygiene – as stated by some researchers, some diseases – stroke, arterial blockage, etc. are related to inflammation and infection caused by bacterial present in the oral cavity. Endocarditis – Inflammation of the endocardium, bacteria from other parts of the body namely mouth, flow in bloodstreams and attach to the damaged portion. It can cause permanent damage and can be fatal. Respiratory diseases and oral hygiene – pooling of certain bacteria into the lungs can cause pneumonia and other respiratory disorders.
HIV/AIDS and oral hygiene – symptomatic mucosal lesions are common in HIV/AIDS patients.
Osteoporosis and oral hygiene – drugs used for treatment can be a threat for jawbones. Bad oral health can also cause small pain and suffering which affect day to day functions like speaking, eating, swallowing and chewing which in turn may lead to nutritional deficiencies which may be the cause of many diseases.
So brush your teeth. Do it often. Use mouthwash and floss, too. Your mouth – and health – will thank you.
Written By:- Dr. Indu Tanwar, Lecturer, Department Of Oral Pathology, MRDC, FDS, MRIIRS