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Understanding the Link Between Oral Health & Overall Well-Being

You probably already know that failing to regularly brush, floss, and attend professional cleanings can negatively impact your teeth, gums, and jawbone, leading to issues like cavities, periodontal (gum) disease, and tooth loss. But did you realize that your oral health can also affect your overall health and well-being? It’s true! Below, we explore the connections between oral health, heart health, and respiratory health. We also discuss how oral health can affect your sleep quality and your risk of developing diabetes.

Oral Health & Heart Health

Researchers are still trying to determine exactly how oral health and heart disease are connected. Some studies suggest that bacteria can travel from the mouth into the bloodstream, causing inflammation and other issues. Others believe that heart disease occurs when inflammation within the mouth causes the immune system to activate white blood cells that circulate to the rest of the body. In any event, poor oral health appears to increase the risk of developing cardiovascular conditions such as blood clots, heart attacks, hypertension (high blood pressure), and strokes.

Oral Health & Respiratory Health

According to the American Thoracic Society (ATS), poor oral health can lead to lung disease. Bacteria from the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs through small droplets of saliva. When that happens, it can cause infections to develop within the lungs, increase lung inflammation, or make other existing respiratory problems worse. Individuals who already have some form of lung disease are particularly at risk, since their lungs are less able to defend against infection.

Oral Health & Sleep Quality

Oral health and sleep quality can affect each other in numerous ways. For example, if you’re experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity, you may have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. Conversely, not sleeping enough can inhibit blood flow, preventing your teeth and gums from getting the nutrients they need to remain healthy. Studies also suggest that sleep apnea (a condition that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start) can increase someone’s risk of grinding their teeth and developing dry mouth, tooth decay, periodontal disease, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

Oral Health & Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin as well as it should. Studies suggest that bacteria within the mouth can make it more difficult for the body to use insulin and control blood sugar levels, increasing someone’s chances of developing diabetes.

It’s important to note that diabetes can also negatively impact a person’s oral health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), diabetes can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease, cause dry mouth, and make it harder for the body to fight off oral infections.

Take the Next Step Toward Improved Health & Well-Being

Oral health starts with an at-home brushing and flossing routine—the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice and flossing once each day—but it doesn’t end there. It’s also important that you regularly attend professional checkups. Luckily, if you’re in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, or the surrounding area, you can turn to Smiles by Stylos Dental Health & Sleep Center. Our history dates back to 1987, and we’re pleased to offer a wide array of general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, and sleep services to patients from across the Greater Merrimack Valley. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our local clinic—we’re open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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