The Connection Between A Healthy Mouth And A Healthy Body

Over the last few years, a strong link between oral health and overall health has been proven by several studies. Specifically, the bacteria and inflammation found in patients with periodontal disease has been shown to play a role in several systemic diseases. For example, evidence has linked oral bacteria to cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, blocked arteries, and stroke. Some studies have shown a link between diabetes and periodontitis as well. Diabetics are more likely to develop severe periodontitis and some studies suggest that it may be more difficult for diabetics with periodontitis to control their blood sugar. Diabetes has also been associated with worsening other oral problems such as tooth decay, dry mouth, fungal infections, delayed healing, and altered taste. Other diseases such as blood disorders, HIV, and other immunodeficiency diseases can have the effect of making periodontitis more severe as well. Other studies have suggested that pregnant women with periodontitis are at an increased risk for delivering preterm and/or low birth-weight babies. A recent study has also shown the possibility that bacteria from the mouth can get in to the mother’s bloodstream and infect the unborn baby.

It has been said that the mouth is “a window into the health of the body.” The mouth can often show signs of disease in other parts of the body such as nutritional deficiencies and anemia. Other systemic diseases like AIDS and Sjögren’s syndrome may first show symptoms in the mouth.  It is also well documented that some malignant cancers visually appear in the mouth first.

Maintaining a healthy diet is essential, along with regular exercise, to promote and maintain a healthy body. Without a balanced diet, the body cannot function properly and if a person’s mouth is unhealthy and painful they are less likely to eat a proper and balanced diet. Also, diets low in certain nutrients can decrease the ability of tissues in the mouth to resist infection.

Given the obvious links between a healthy mouth and a healthy body, there are several important things we can all do to live healthier lives:  Eat a well balanced diet every day. Get exercise on a regular basis. Brush your teeth twice and floss once a day. Schedule regular medical and dental checkups. And always tell your doctor and dentist if there have been any changes to your health since your last visit. For more information on how to achieve a healthy mouth and support your overall health, discuss your concerns or questions with your doctor and dentist and visit websites of accredited groups like the American Dental Association (ada.org) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (MyPyramid.gov).

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Volume 6, Issue 5, Posted 8:25 AM, 03.10.2010