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Want to Be Healthy? Don’t Forget About Dental Health

By Sara Butler

A Look at Dental Health

Did you know the gateway to poor health is through your mouth?

Look, everyone knows that (cue the music) the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone, the foot bone’s connected to the thigh bone … and so on. Yes, those connected body parts were immortalized in song a long time ago. Everyone understands that the skeletal system is connected, but it’s also connected to your muscular system, which is connected to your central nervous system. Any dysfunction along the way can cause problems.

What many people are not aware of is how their dental health is connected to their overall health. Sure, it’s about the worst pain you can have when something is wrong with your teeth, but do you know how the health of your teeth and gums impacts things beyond your mouth?

Here is what you need to know about the role oral health plays in your overall health and why it’s so important.

Bacteria: Hiding In Plain Sight

Just like every other part of your body, your mouth is absolutely bursting with bacteria. Yeah, it can be creepy to think about, but most of the bacteria on your body and in your mouth are harmless. However, the mouth is the entrance to your respiratory and digestive tracts, so a lot of things tend to go in and out regularly, which is why a lot of the bacteria in the mouth can be harmful.

The best defense against this daily barrage of bacteria in the mouth is good oral hygiene. Something as simple as regular flossing can reduce the bacteria in your mouth by as much as 40 percent. If you can reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth, then you can reduce the chances that you’ll develop an infection in your mouth such as gum disease or tooth decay -- conditions that can have a detrimental impact on your overall health.

Health Concerns

Unhealthy gums are a big contributor to serious health conditions, some of which may surprise you. Unhealthy gums have been linked to:

  • Heart disease - If your gums are inflamed and teeming with bacteria, then that bacteria can enter your bloodstream and impact the arteries that feed your heart muscle. This can lead to conditions such as atherosclerosis and endocarditis.
  • Dementia - Bacteria from the gums can also enter your brain and researchers think this may contribute to cognitive conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Respiratory illnesses - The air you inhale has to first pass through your mouth and some of that bacteria can easily hitch a ride to your lungs, which can lead to illness.
  • Complications from diabetes - Those with periodontal disease who are also diabetic have a much more difficult time controlling their blood sugar, which can then make diabetes worse. However, those with diabetes are also more likely to suffer from periodontal disease, which is a vicious cycle to be caught up in.
  • TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders) - Periodontal disease can impact your natural bite; if not corrected, it could cause TMJ, which can lead to jaw pain, headaches/migraines, clicking (or even locking) of the jaw, ringing in the ears, swelling, and tooth sensitivity.
  • Arthritis - Researchers have also found that those with more tooth loss and gum disease have a higher chance of developing arthritis.
  • Osteoporosis - This disease that impacts the bones has been linked with bone and tooth loss in the mouth.

TMJ, along with arthritis, and osteoporosis, can be helped with chiropractic care.

What You Can Do

You can protect your oral health and your overall health by simply practicing good oral hygiene habits on a daily basis. You should:

  • Brush your teeth at least two times per day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste containing fluoride
  • Floss every day at least once
  • After brushing and flossing, use mouthwash to help remove anything that your brush or floss may have missed
  • Eat a healthy diet and make sure to put a limit on food that contains added sugars
  • See your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups

If you’re struggling with conditions that the chiropractor is treating you for, such as arthritis, then it may be a good idea to take a step back and think about your oral health and how it may be contributing to issues you’re having.

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