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Many people take their oral health for granted, avoiding flossing until it's time to see the dentist, only brushing for 10 seconds once a day, and so on. But, did you know that your oral health can act as a window into your physical health?

Your teeth and your gums matter. If you are not taking good care of them, there is a risk that there are other things going on in your physical health that are also being ignored.  To prevent yourself from unexpected health issues, you need to find out what you need to know.

How are they connected?

To begin with, you might be wondering how oral and physical health is even related. We found out from Glen Park Family Dentistry how it all works. Your mouth is naturally full of bacteria. Most of the bacteria are harmless, but you have to remember that everything that is swallowed in your mouth goes right into your body, including bacteria.

Regular homecare can take care of most of the bacteria in your mouth, keeping it from getting out of control. If you do not brush and floss as much as you should, however, the bacteria can increase, leaving you with both oral and physical health concerns.

In some cases, it is not just homecare that results in more bacteria. Some types of medications and medical conditions can cause dry mouth, or a reduction in saliva. Without your natural cleaner to help you, the bacteria can multiple as much as it likes.

Once your oral bacteria enter your blood stream, it can wreak havoc on your overall health.

Conditions Connected with Oral Health

There are quite a few serious health conditions that can be linked to poor oral health, such as:

  • Cardiovascular Disease: The first condition that you are at a higher risk of developing with poor oral health is cardiovascular disease. Researchers are still trying to figure out how cardiovascular disease and oral health are fully linked, but there are a few theories. Clogged arteries, stroke, and heart disease can be linked to bacteria and inflammation in the mouth.

  • Pneumonia: This one might surprise you, but bacteria can sometimes wind up in your lungs, resulting in pneumonia as well as other respiratory conditions.

  • Endocarditis: Endocarditis is an infection within the lining of your valves or your heart. When bacteria go into your bloodstream, it has a better chance of setting in your cardiovascular system and causing all sorts of trouble.

  • Pregnancy Issues: This one might be the most surprising, but poor oral health has also been linked to issues of premature birth or low birth weight of an infant. It mostly occurs with the bacteria from periodontal disease. Pregnancy women are often recommended to see their dentist three times a year to help prevent issues. 

  • Diabetes: Diabetes can be related to oral health, because as your body works to fight off any infection caused by the bacteria, your resistance to infection goes down. People who have periodontal disease have a higher tendency to also be diabetic.

There are other conditions that can be affected by poor oral health as well, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, HIV, and even eating disorders. 

What to do?

If you have not been taking care of your teeth as well as you should have, you might now be realizing the risks that go along with poor oral health. There are still some things that you can do to maintain your oral health. These include:

  • Brushing for 2 minutes twice a day

  • Flossing once a day

  • Limit your intake of sugary foods

  • Use mouthwash to help remove any bacteria that hasn't been purged. 

  • Change out your toothbrush at least every three months, or more often if you have been sick

  • Do not use any tobacco products

  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year

At your dental check-up, make sure to inform your dentist of any changes in your medications or health history. If you have been ill recently or have come down with a serious health condition, you will need to let your dentist know in order for you to have all of preventative care that you can get.