Most of us are unaware of the fact that our dental health and general health are related. We tend to think of our teeth and gums as separate from the rest of our bodies. After all, we see a separate doctor for their care.
But our mouths are part of a whole, and the health of one affects the other. Poor general health, or specific diseases and even the medications we take for them, can have a negative effect on our teeth and gums. And problems with our teeth and gums can cause problems elsewhere in the body.
Good general health starts with good nutrition, and the same rules for a healthy diet make good sense for our oral health as well. Particularly, minimizing the consumption of sugars is good for the waistline, and minimizes the incidence of cavities.
Minimizing stress is good for your heart, but you may not realize it’s good for your teeth as well. Many people with stress issues grind their teeth (bruxism) while sleeping and may be unaware that they do. A dentist may recognize wear patterns that indicate teeth grinding and may suggest an appliance to correct the problem. High stress also increases your level of cortisol which is bad for your body, including your gums.
Dry mouth is something that people can experience as a result of certain medical conditions, and can also result from certain medications, even over the counter ones. Dry mouth is uncomfortable and increases your risk of cavities and gum disease.
If you develop gingivitis or periodontal disease this can increase your risk of heart attack. While not fully understood, it’s believed bacteria from gum disease contributes to plaques in the arteries. It’s also believed this bacteria triggers inflammation which narrows arteries and increases risk of clots.