When it comes to one’s health, many people take a “wait and see” approach. Rather than be proactive about their wellness, they wait until they don’t feel good, then address the specific issue.
However, holistic medicine and wellness are much better at preventing and treating various illnesses and conditions. In many cases, a flare of something harmful can actually be a sign of something else going on under the surface.
One often neglected area of healthcare is oral health. Many people avoid going to the dentist, and even those that do may ignore various warning signs.
So, today let’s look at how oral health affects your overall body health and when the two areas can collide.
What’s Included in Oral Health?
Typically, people assume that oral health is restricted to the teeth. However, various elements in the mouth require regular maintenance and upkeep. These elements can also be affected by other things going on in the body.
Some examples of non-tooth-related oral health centers include:
- Tongue – Your ability to taste is directly affected by your sense of smell. However, internal viruses can also rob you of your taste buds, albeit temporarily in most cases. Your tongue can also be host to canker sores and other lesions that may result from various bacteria and pathogens.
- Gums – Gum disease is far more prevalent than you may think. Nearly half of all adults (46 percent) show signs of gum disease, ranging from mild to severe.
- Tonsils – As recently as a few decades ago, it was common for one’s tonsils to be removed. However, they act as a natural barrier for pathogens entering your body. If you’re exposed to harmful bacteria in the air, you can get tonsillitis, which can be pretty painful.
- Throat – The gateway from your mouth to the rest of your body can get infected just as anything else in your system. Throat diseases can stem from internal problems or oral health issues.
Oral Health Problems Affecting Overall Health Problems
A big reason why people don’t take a holistic approach to their healthcare is that they view each part of the body as individual and unique. It also doesn’t help that you often have to see a specialist for each section. For example, foot pain or soreness requires a podiatrist, while heart palpitations require a cardiologist. Because each physician is focused on a single piece of the puzzle, they can often miss warning signs of trouble elsewhere in the body.
When it comes to oral health, your mouth acts as both a beacon and a potential disease vector. Here’s a quick overview of how your oral health can lead to illness or signal something wrong in your body.
A Healthy Natural Balance of Bacteria
You may not be aware of how much bacteria is in your mouth at all times. The estimate is around 700 different species of microbes, with as many as 20 billion individual cells living inside your mouth. Most of these germs are beneficial and help you break down food. However, if you don’t take care of your oral hygiene (i.e., brushing and flossing daily), harmful bacteria can multiply and spread to other body parts.
Basically, your mouth acts as a microbial ecosystem in a delicate balance. So, an imbalance of one species over another can lead to catastrophe. Even if you’re not around other sick people, the germs already in your mouth can make you ill.
A Healthy Connection to the Rest of the Body
Saliva is essential to your oral health because it helps break down food and maintain the balance of pathogens in your body. Sometimes, internal problems, including side effects of medication, can affect your saliva production. In other cases, these issues can spread to your gums and tongue, leading to effects like halitosis, canker sores, lesions, and more.
Typically, if your mouth is starting to hurt or you notice more problems than usual, it could be a warning sign of something else going on in the body. Oral health issues can signal diseases like diabetes, HIV, osteoporosis, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Schedule An Appointment with Your Regular Dentist Today
Maintaining a clean and healthy mouth is essential for your overall well-being. So, it helps to schedule regular appointments with your dentist for things like cleanings, fillings, implants, and more. Contact us today and start feeling better!