One of the biggest mistakes people make regarding their health and wellbeing is overlooking the importance of oral hygiene. While most of us know that we risk cavities, tooth decay, and loss of teeth if we don’t take care of our oral health, few of us fully grasp how interdependent our oral and general health are.
The human mouth is home to various kinds of bacteria, but they are harmless for the most part. Things start to become dangerous when you neglect your oral health, as an excess of bacteria can harm your gums and teeth. We make ourselves vulnerable to dental issues when we fail to take care of our basic oral hygiene through regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits.
Such issues include oral infections such as periodontitis, gingivitis, and general tooth decay. When these infections generate large volumes of bacteria and allow them to spread throughout the body through your bloodstream, the potential risks of contracting subsequent and illnesses rise.
Severe infection is the biggest cause of complications stemming from poor oral hygiene. While some might be considered less severe, they can negatively affect your quality of life. Such conditions include:
Cardiovascular Disease: Even though the medical world is unsure of the precise mechanisms behind this phenomenon, multiple systemic studies indicate a link between periodontitis and a dramatically increased chance of developing cardiovascular maladies such as clogged arteries and heart attacks.
Endocarditis: This is a potentially debilitating infection affecting the inner lining of the heart. It occurs when infection-causing bacteria spreads from an oral infection through the circulatory system and eventually reaches the heart.
Prenatal Complications: Pregnancy complications affecting unborn children have been linked to poor oral health. Prenatal issues may eventually present themselves when the child is born prematurely or with low birth weight.
Strokes: Ischemic strokes have been shown to occur with more frequency among those suffering from oral infections.
Pneumonia: This condition is caused by lung infections, which may come about when harmful bacteria travel from the mouth to these sensitive organs.
Lowered Self-Esteem: Mental health is a significant factor when considering a person’s overall health and quality of life. Poor dentition (missing teeth, tooth decay, etc.) can negatively affect your self-image, hampering your ability to socialize with others.
Reduced Concentration: Poor oral health may cause aching teeth. A toothache can sorely affect your ability to concentrate, sleep, and function normally. This discomfort can affect your life and general wellbeing.
An easy yet effective way to optimize your general health and wellbeing is to take good care of your oral health. You can do this by regularly brushing your teeth, flossing, and visiting your dentist at least once every six months (more often if you smoke or have exacerbating conditions such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS).
By keeping your oral hygiene in check, you’ll be on track to enjoy greater overall health and improved quality of life.