Preventative Dental Care – Oral Health and Overall Health Connection

Preventative Dental Care - Oral Health and Overall Health Connection from New York Dental Office in New York, NYPreventative dental care has long been the focus of dentists and patients alike. Taking proactive steps to protect your teeth and gums not only helps you prevent tooth decay and gum disease but can also decrease your risk of developing other illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Here’s how oral health affects overall health and what you can do to keep your mouth healthy in the long run.

Connections between oral health and cardiovascular diseases

When you think of heart disease, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, you probably don’t think about your mouth. But even if your teeth are in good shape, you could be at risk for cardiovascular diseases. Diseases like atherosclerosis are still very much linked to oral health problems that start with gum disease. When plaque builds up on your teeth or gums due to poor brushing habits or an overall lack of preventative dental care, it can cause gum disease.

On top of that, if you don’t treat gingivitis — a less severe form of gum disease — it can develop into periodontitis. Periodontitis leads to inflammation and possible bone loss in your jaw. And while you may not think about your teeth when talking about heart disease, there is a direct link between periodontal diseases and cardiovascular problems.

The bacteria that form due to periodontitis can enter your bloodstream, causing blood clots to develop throughout your body. These blood clots can block major arteries in your heart or brain, leading to a heart attack or stroke. Experts say that cleaning your teeth twice a day is an important preventative dental care practice to help reduce these serious health risks. But even if you have good oral hygiene habits, it’s still important for you to see a dentist regularly.

Connections between oral health and diabetes

The research is still in its infancy, but some good work is coming out on a connection between diabetes and oral health. The theory: if we can prevent gum disease, we might save people from additional complications caused by diabetes. A recent study published in Diabetologia found that patients with prediabetes who had more advanced periodontal disease were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as those with less advanced periodontal disease.

Our teeth and gums hold a lot of important clues about our overall health. When we talk about oral health, we’re talking about so much more than just cavities. We’re referring to conditions like gum disease, tooth decay, mouth sores, as well as infections such as herpes or HIV, which can all take their toll on your mouth.

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Connections between oral health and respiratory conditions

Studies show that gum disease can contribute to respiratory conditions such as pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). A study published in Chest found that compared with individuals who have no signs of periodontal disease, those with severe periodontal disease are 1.25 times more likely to die from ARDS. The authors also found that individuals with moderate periodontal disease are at a 40 percent increased risk of dying from ARDS.

Additional research suggests that periodontal disease may also play a role in COPD, asthma, and other lung diseases. A study found that individuals with severe periodontal disease have a 1.67 times greater risk of developing asthma than those without signs of periodontal disease.

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