Your overall health and your dental health are connected. Poor dental health habits increase your chances of illness or conditions and some diseases or conditions can affect your mouth.
What happens in your mouth (oral health) can and does affect other parts of your body. This is why good dental habits are important to your overall health.
Your mouth contains many types of bacteria. Some are harmless, while others can cause health problems in your mouth or other areas of your body.
Poor dental health habits can let harmful bacteria attack your gums and teeth resulting in gum disease and tooth decay. Good dental health habits (brushing twice a day, flossing and regular visits to your dental health professional), prevent most harmful bacteria from causing problems in your mouth and others areas of your body.
Under a variety of circumstances, harmful bacteria can enter your blood stream through your mouth or otherwise spread to other areas of your body.
When this happens, there is the potential for serious health consequences. Likewise, health problems and conditions can cause problems in your mouth.
Here are some of the potential problems you could experience due to poor dental habits and some conditions that may affect your dental health:
Diabetes – Diabetes is a chronic condition involving many factors in your overall health, including a lowered resistance to infections. A lowered resistance to infections (bacteria) can produce gum disease and other problems in your mouth. People with diabetes are at greater risk for losing teeth thanks to potentially major gum infections.
Heart disease – Researchers suspect a link between poor dental habits and cardiovascular disease. Inflammation from gum disease (periodontitis) caused by oral bacteria may play a role in the connection.
Weakened immune systems – People with a weakened immune system may be more susceptible to infections of the mouth, which can spread to other parts of the body. People with HIV/AIDS may develop painful sores in the mouth, for example.
Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become brittle and subject to fracture. The condition, which frequently appears in later years, may be connected to tooth loss and jaw bone loss.
Infections – Bacteria can move into your bloodstream due to gum disease. Infections can then spread to other parts of the body.
Cancer – Oral cancer is a serious medical condition that requires prompt action. In its later stages, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body. Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for developing oral (mouth) cancer.
Your best defense against the spread of infections and other medical problems from your mouth to other parts of your body are good oral health practices.