The pursuit of health and wellness is not a single-faceted endeavor. Instead, overall fitness is achieved by making daily and consistent decisions contributing to your health and well-being. One of those decisions is taking care of your oral health.
Your mouth is one of the main entry points in your body. It’s how the body receives food, water, and air – all essential to sustaining life. On the flip side, your mouth is also where bacteria and viruses enter easily while providing a fertile environment for these microorganisms to thrive.
Below, we will explore the oral-systemic link- the condition of your dental health and overall well-being – and how they are connected.
What is Dental Health?
Dental health refers to the state of the whole mouth, from teeth to tongue to gums. Optimum oral health starts with decreasing the risk of cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and tooth decay.
Prevention has always been better than cure. Maintaining good oral hygiene (read on to find out how to do this) helps defend against other more serious physical health concerns linked with poor dental health.
Your physical, mental, and psychological well-being and dental health are very closely linked, and not in a matter-of-fact way. The state of your mouth may very well indicate more serious concerns in the rest of your body.
As your smile is one of your defining features, symptoms associated with gum disease, such as tooth decay and tooth loss, can significantly impact how you view yourself and others. This can negatively affect your self-esteem and, in turn, your mental health condition.
Maintaining a Healthy Ecosystem in Your Mouth Equals a Healthy Body
Made up of microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses, the oral microbiome forms a bustling ecosystem in your oral cavity.
Some of the microorganisms help your body by assisting digestion and strengthening the immune system. Other organisms, however, can harm the body, especially viruses and bacteria.
In a healthy mouth, the oral microbiome is balanced, leaving the valuable microorganisms to do their job in peace. Conversely, an imbalanced microbiome becomes a breeding ground for disease.
When this happens, and disease does set in, what kind of risks are we looking at?
Here is a list of systemic risks associated with poor dental health:
- Cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease, a severe form of gum disease that causes inflammation of the gums, have been associated in recent studies. While research is ongoing, there is growing evidence to suggest that the inflammation and bacteria present in periodontal disease can spread to the heart, causing various cardiac-related issues.
- Diabetes and oral health affect each other from both sides. Symptoms such as dry mouth and thrush can contribute to an imbalanced oral microbiome for those with the condition. Additionally, diabetes affects the immune system negatively, leaving little defense against the harmful microorganisms in your oral cavity. On the other hand, inflammation caused by gum disease can cause a spike in the body’s blood sugar levels.
- The functioning of your respiratory system can be compromised by disease associated with poor dental health. If there is a large amount of bacteria in the mouth, often due to oral infections, it can be transmitted to the lungs by aspiration, resulting in disease.
The Impact of Dental Health on Mental Well-being
Every day, we use our mouths to eat, drink, and talk. We also use it to show our feelings. However, performing these daily activities – which we often take for granted – can be compromised by our dental health, contributing to low self-esteem and voluntary isolation. In turn, your quality of life may be affected.
Putting on a brave smile and facing your coworkers, friends, or family can be challenging when dealing with severe gum disease. Similarly, it may become difficult to go about your daily life when the symptoms of gum disease – such as receding gums, bad breath, and tooth loss – affect your body image negatively.
These challenges not only have an impact on your physical state but also your mental and emotional well-being. Gum disease symptoms can affect self-confidence and even force you to withdraw from social activities. Over time, this increases your risk of depression and anxiety.
Ignoring dental health concerns for extended periods exacerbates the mental problems mentioned above, reducing your chances of receiving adequate treatment before it’s too late.
Tips to Take Care of Your Oral Well-being
Here are some easy-to-follow steps you can implement today to safeguard against gum disease while promoting a happier, healthier you:
- Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing correctly, and replacing your toothbrush every three months.
- Schedule regular dental checkups that include cleaning and X-rays to mitigate the risk of gum disease.
- Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet with lowered amounts of processed sugar. This includes drinking enough water to aid in saliva production in your mouth.
- Reduce stress to keep your immune system in a good state.
- Avoid excessive alcohol and smoking.
By following these tips, you are not only positively contributing to your oral health but also to your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Take Charge of Your Dental Health and Overall Wellness
At Taylor Dental, our smile gallery is a testament to the life-changing impact of good dental care and oral health. We provide tailored dental services, treatments, and advice to help you achieve optimum dental health so you can go forward with your best smile.