Your Mouth Is the Mirror of Your Health and Well-Being
Did you know that sensory, cognitive and physiological aging can lead to complications of your dental health? While losing your teeth with age is not inevitable, your mouth does undergo changes as you age. Make sure you visit your dentist regularly to get cleanings and checkups because there is a strong connection between your oral health and your overall health.
6 Diseases That Can Be Related to Periodontitis
Elders suffering from periodontal disease are highly susceptible to heart disease and twice more likely to invite a fatal stroke. This is because the bacteria and plaque residing in the gums can enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart. These bacteria contain a protein that promotes the formation of clots, which can lead to arterial narrowing. If periodontal disease is left untreated, these bacteria can clog the carotid artery supplying blood to the brain, which could result in a stroke.
More than 90 percent of the aging population suffering from diabetes also has periodontal disease. When left untreated in diabetic patients, periodontal disease leads to permanent tooth loss. This is because diabetic patients suffering from periodontal disease contract oral infections easily because it is difficult for them to control their blood sugar levels. Periodontal disease causes inflammation that impairs the patient’s ability to use insulin, which further complicates matters.
Several clinical studies have confirmed that inflammation in the mouth gradually leads to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive brain disease that leaves the patient in a debilitative state. Patients suffering from periodontal disease are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The elderly population, especially those who are in their 80s and living in a retirement home or long-term care facility, is highly susceptible to developing aspiration pneumonia. Bad oral hygiene leads to a buildup of plaque, and when the elderly breathe this dental plaque down their lungs, the bacteria can cause pneumonia, which can have serious health implications.
Research studies have shown that those suffering from gum disease are twice as likely to develop kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer. If you smoke or chew tobacco and practice poor oral care, your risk of acquiring oral cancer increases. Oral cancer affects the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and the lining of your mouth. If it is not diagnosed and treated on time, it spreads to your facial muscles, adversely impacting your quality of life.
The bacteria causing periodontal disease can travel through the bloodstream to your lungs where they can further aggravate the respiratory system, especially in those already suffering from respiratory issues. According to a recent research study published in the Journal of Periodontology, there is a strong correlation between gum disease and respiratory problems like bronchitis and pneumonia.
Good Oral Health Habits That Can Impact Your Health
Oral health is linked to your overall health, and any oral condition involving your teeth, gums and dentures can impact your health adversely. Following these standard oral hygiene practices will prevent the progression of oral disease and help in maintaining a healthy mouth:
If you wear dentures, you are at risk of developing fungal infections. The permeable nature of acrylic resin leaves your dentures susceptible to the formation of plaque. Be sure to clean your dentures regularly using a denture brush and rinse them well under running water. Remove your dentures every night to give your gum tissues some rest. Store your clean dentures carefully in a bowl of uncontaminated, cold water.
Cut Down on Sugar Intake
Reduce the intake of fruit juices, sugary drinks and caffeinated drinks, as tooth decay is directly linked with the frequency of sugar intake. Drink water after every meal that includes sugary foods and sweeteners to flush the acids that cause decay.
Develop and Maintain an Oral Care Regime
Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. Change your brush every four months and use fluoride toothpaste. Avoid cavity-producing foods and cut down on your consumption of tobacco and alcohol if you cannot abstain completely.
Keep Up With Dental Care Appointments
Go for dental cleanings and checkups regularly so oral issues can be diagnosed and treated on time. By adopting healthy dental habits, making nutritive diet choices and seeking professional dental care, you can ensure that your teeth last a lifetime whether you wear dentures or have natural teeth or implants.
Author: Dr. Amruta Patel is a warm and compassionate dentist caring for the community of San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Patel attended Marquette University, where she received both her dental degree and her bachelor’s degree. She practices at All About Smiles, where she provides cosmetic braces, endodontic treatments, implants, and veneers, as well as basic general dental services. During her consultations, Dr. Patel fully explains patients’ conditions and helps them choose an appropriate treatment plan. Outside of practicing dentistry, Dr. Patel enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs.