If your eyes are the windows to your soul, then your mouth is considered the window to your overall health. Oral health involves the teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth, and these parts can tell you so much about your health, well-being, and overall longevity.
In this post, expert dentist Dr. Atefeh Ehteshamfar shares compelling insights on dental and oral health are connected to living longer. Continue reading below for more.
Understanding The Connection Between Dental Health And Overall Wellbeing
Like any part of the body, the mouth is teeming with mostly harmless bacteria. Normally, clean teeth or good oral health, and a properly functioning immune system can help keep these bacteria under control.
However, when you neglect basic teeth and oral hygiene, the number of bacteria significantly increases, causing oral infections such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Since your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory system, the increased growth of bacteria and severe inflammation and infection caused by poor oral health can wreak havoc on your entire body. This increases your risk of chronic diseases, which reduces your lifespan.
Mortality And Poor Oral Health: What Do Studies Reveal
There have been numerous studies linking poor oral health and tooth loss to a higher mortality rate at a younger age.
For instance, a 2017 study 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5353629/ established a positive relationship between poor oral health and mortality. The study shows that the accumulation of oral disease can be associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases causing death. The result of the study also shows that missing teeth which prevents proper masticatory function or food chewing is related to a higher risk of mortality as well.
Another study published in 2014 also revealed that significant tooth loss, periodontal disease, and root caries were associated with increased risks of dying. The study stated that having multiple dental health issues was connected with an even higher rate of mortality too.
Meanwhile, a 2015 research 2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25600364/ studies the relationship between the number of teeth and the 5-year mortality rate in elderly people. The study found out that for every additional tooth at age 70, there’s a 4% increase in a senior’s five-year survival chance.
A more comprehensive 2010 study that followed participants for 12 years found the same results, in which the number of teeth you have is directly associated with your risk of death from any cause as well as an increased risk of death from chronic diseases.
With the abovementioned studies, evidence suggests that there’s indeed an association between poor oral health and mortality.
4 Chronic Diseases Linked to Poor Dental Health That Increases Mortality Rate
The following are ailments that are linked to poor oral health. Keep on reading to learn more.
1. Cardiovascular Disease
Did you know that poor dental health can result in an increased risk of heart problems? Some studies proved the direct relationship between dental issues and a higher risk of developing heart disease.
In general, the bacteria that causes periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream which causes plaque build-up in your arteries Over time, the plaque hardens causing the condition known as atherosclerosis which is a dangerous form of heart disease. It causes blood flow problems and heart blockages, significantly increasing your chances of experiencing a heart attack.
Aside from this increased risk, bacteria from your mouth that enter your bloodstream can damage your blood vessels, which may cause hypertension and stroke. In even rarer cases, a severe tooth infection can develop into endocarditis, a potentially fatal condition that infects the heart’s lining.
2. Respiratory Infections
Bacteria from an infected tooth or swollen gums can enter your respiratory system. Over time, the increased number of bacteria in your lungs can cause various respiratory infections such as acute bronchitis, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Researchers from Harvard revealed that people with a history of gum diseases have a higher risk of oesophageal and stomach cancers. Although more research is needed, the study suggested that the increased risks may be caused by greater exposure to oral bacteria and the harmful substance produced by those bacteria.
Adults and kids suffering from diabetes are already prone to infection due to the lowered immune system’s response. Thus, diabetic patients are more likely to get frequent and more severe tooth infections and gum diseases.
In addition, a tooth infection can make your condition more difficult to manage. In general, it can worsen your symptoms and make your sugar levels go haywire. If you don’t take care of your teeth, you can experience complications from your diabetes which may ultimately result in fatality.
As you can see, taking care of your teeth and overall oral health is more important than you realize. Problems in your teeth and mouth can significantly affect the rest of your body. Practicing good oral hygiene not only ensures that you never experience the pain that comes with decaying tooth and gum diseases, but it goes a long way towards minimizing your risk for alarming health issues that can shorten your lifespan too.
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