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The Link Between Poor Oral Health and Other Diseases

Heka Healthcare Consulting, LLC
09/29/17  2:18 PM PST
Poor Oral Health

We may have all heard the saying that “your health is your wealth,” but we may not always appreciate just how interconnected our body is. This is especially the case when it comes to our oral hygiene. Recently, oral hygiene has come into the spotlight because many of the ailments associated with poor oral health can be directly linked to other chronic diseases within the body.

Oral ailments not only affect the mouth, tongue or lips; they can also affect other areas of the body, which can lead to more serious chronic conditions. Some of these health problems include:

  • Respiratory Disease: In some cases, oral diseases can further lead to respiratory ailments. Here, microorganisms from the infection sites can enter the respiratory pathways and reach the bloodstream, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or pneumonia can develop within a short period.
  • Cardiovascular Diseases: Individuals who have had inflammation of their gums may be at risk for coronary heart disease; they may also be at a higher risk to having a stroke due to the infected blood vessels.
  • Diabetes: A recent survey indicated that about 95% of U.S. adults suffering from diabetes may also be suffering from gum disease. Because diabetic patients have reduced immunity due to uncontrolled blood sugar, they can badly be affected by minor traumas or less virulent infectious agents. Diabetes patients are advised to live a healthy lifestyle to avoid these unwanted complications, and this includes instituting good oral hygiene practices.
  • Dementia: Poor dental hygiene can result in loss of teeth, gum disease, and it may be a contributing factor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Infected gums release a variety of chemical mediators that can cause brain damage and ultimately memory loss.
  • Cancer: Research has also indicated a link between cancer and periodontal disease.  One study found that men with gum disease were 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancer.
  • Increased Risk of Infertility: The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology presented research revealing that oral health diseases can delay pregnancy. In the study, women with gum disease took an average of seven months to conceive whereas their peers could conceive within five months.
  • Premature Birth: Pregnancy is another period when immunity is below average or compromised because of poor oral hygiene. Per the March of Dimes, nearly 13% of babies are born prematurely in the U.S. If the mother has an oral infection, she has an increased risk of premature delivery of fetus.
  • Erectile Dysfunction: Men suffering from periodontal diseases are 7 times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than those with good oral health. Erectile dysfunctions occur because of viral organisms from oral infections traveling through the bloodstream and blocking blood flow to genital areas.

Many of us overlook how our dental hygiene practices affect our overall health. Poor oral hygiene could lead to other ailments, including some significant health conditions. One’s health routine should include regular visits to a dentist or oral health care professional for early detection of any oral condition. By making a few simple changes to our lifestyle, we get can stay on the right track.

 

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