The oral-systemic connection is the relationship between oral health and overall systemic health. The connection is complex, but recent research reveals that poor oral health can have a negative impact on the body. Conversely, systemic diseases can affect oral health, too. Therefore, maintaining good oral health and attending routine general dentistry appointments at a Dallas dental office are essential for overall health and well-being.
Dentists recommend visiting a dental office twice yearly for preventive care and routine maintenance. Has it been more than six months since your last dental visit? Contact the team at Lakewood Dental Group in Dallas, TX, at (214) 827-1885 to get the personalized and affordable dental care you deserve.
Understanding how oral health impacts overall health is as important as understanding how overall health affects oral health. In this blog post, we explore the oral-systemic connection and discuss some ways to improve it.
The Oral-Systemic Connection
Many healthcare professionals like to say that the mouth is like a gateway to the rest of the body. This means that everything that enters our mouths has the potential to affect our overall health. However, this isn’t always a negative thing because many of the substances that enter our bodies are ideal for optimal oral and overall health.
But, a poor diet and neglected dental hygiene can lead to poor oral health. And when our oral health begins to take a turn for the worse, it can lead to a variety of bodily health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory diseases
- Metabolic syndrome
- Low birth weight and other pregnancy complications
Conversely, systemic diseases such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and cancer can affect oral health by causing:
- Dry mouth (also known as xerostomia)
- Gum disease
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
- Dental decay
- Many other oral health problems
Inflammation’s Role in the Oral-Systemic Connection
Many experts (including the experts at our Dallas dental office!) believe that the oral-systemic connection is controlled by chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or injury. And, when it comes to our health, inflammation can be both helpful and harmful.
Acute inflammation is a normal response that helps the body fight infection or heal after an injury. However, chronic inflammation can damage tissues and organs over time, leading to a variety of health problems.
Dallas Dental Office: “Conquer Inflammation for Optimal Health”
Poor oral health can contribute to chronic inflammation by allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream and trigger an immune response. Typically, bacteria find areas of vulnerability caused by decay or disease, like through damaged gum tissue affected by periodontitis.
This vulnerability can lead to systemic inflammation, which has been linked to a variety of health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory diseases
- Premature birth and/or low birth weight
Dallas Dental Office Reveals 4 Tips to Improve the Oral-Systemic Connection
The oral-systemic connection is dynamic. This means that there are plenty of internal and external factors that can influence the connection between the mouth and body. Simply put–there are plenty of things we can do to improve our oral and overall health.
Let’s explore some ways that we can improve the oral-systemic connection now.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene is key to maintaining our oral health and preventing periodontal disease and other oral health issues.
This includes brushing twice a day (our dental office recommends using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush). It also includes flossing at least once a day (with a traditional floss, an interdental brush, or a water flosser). As an added bonus, our Dallas dental office also recommends using an antiseptic mouthwash after flossing and brushing.
Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are also important for maintaining oral health. These appointments prevent oral issues and identify any problems before they become larger, more costly issues. We recommend visiting a Dallas dental office at least twice yearly for routine care.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
We’ve all heard that a healthy diet is great for our bodies. But, did you know that a nutritious diet is great for our smiles, too? It’s true–the foods and drinks that we put into our mouths are largely responsible for how our bodies function and appear.
A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is ideal for keeping our mouths and bodies healthy and aesthetically pleasing. This means that we should avoid foods that are highly processed or high in sugar, as they can quickly lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
Probiotic foods and drinks may be beneficial for increasing our oral and bodily health. Experts have found that the microorganisms found in treats like yogurt, kombucha, and kimchi can introduce health-boosting flora back into our systems. The result is improved oral health, gut health, and brain health!
Stress can have a negative impact on our oral health. In fact, stress can lead to teeth grinding and jaw clenching, which can quickly cause wear and tear on the teeth and gums.
Stress can also weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off oral infections. This can have serious implications for patients with advanced gum disease.
Strategies for managing stress may include:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Visualization practices
- Talking to a therapist or other mental health expert
Quit Smoking and Avoid Alcohol
Smoking is a major risk factor for gum disease. The inhaled smoke can damage gingival tissue over time, which leaves the gums vulnerable to invading bacteria. Not only that, but smoking significantly increases our likelihood of developing head, neck, and oral cancers.
Quitting smoking can greatly improve our oral health and reduce the risk of other health problems. Our dental office also recommends quitting smokeless tobacco products, as smokeless products still place us at a greater risk of developing certain cancers.
Our dental office in Dallas, TX, also recommends avoiding alcohol to establish a better oral-systemic connection. Alcohol has a drying effect on the oral cavity, which can quickly lead to cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems.
Improve the Oral-Systemic Connection at Our Dallas Dental Office
Improving your oral and overall health does not need to be a challenge. The team at Lakewood Dental Group can help you boost your dental health for enhanced bodily health. Contact our dental office in Dallas, TX, at (214) 827-1885 or on our website here to get started now!