What Dental Health Issues Can Affect Your General Health?

You're maybe wondering what dental health issues there might be that could possibly affect your general health and well-being. After all, your dental health should only affect teeth and gums, right?

Wrong ! Wrong! Wrong!

While dental health issues obviously DO affect your teeth and gums, there are also other very important areas where your general health is affected by how healthy your teeth and gums are.

It's all to do with the bacteria in your mouth that cause dental problems. These bacteria can also cause problems elsewhere in your body.

Here are the most important ones:

Heart Disease. If you have gum disease, you're more likely to have a heart attack.

It's as simple as that.

In fact, if you have severe gum disease, you are almost TWICE as likely to have a heart attack. This is one of those dental health issues that may come as a shock!

What's the connection between gum disease and heart problems?. In the first place, the bacteria involved in gum disease may get into your blood stream. Once in your circulation, the bacteria can start to collect in the arteries of the heart. This builds up into a layer, and slowly reduces the blood supply to the heart itself. This is not good.

Dental Health Issues

But it's even worse if a little clump or clot breaks off, because it gets carried along by the circulation and can get jammed in a small artery, completely blocking it. This starves that section of heart muscle of oxygen. You've just had a heart attack.

The other possibilty is that the chronic inflammation caused by gum disease may cause an increase in the build up of fatty deposits inside the arteries of the heart. This also restricts the blood supply of the heart. Read more at dental health/heart disease

Dental Health Issues affecting YOUR general health

  • Diabetes. We know that if you have diabetes, you tend to get infections more easily, and you also tend to heal more slowly, among other things. If you have diabetes, you are more likely to have gum disease. Why? Because gum disease is basically an infection.

    But there's more to it than that. Gum disease can make your diabetes worse. Let me repeat that, because it's really important: If you are diabetic, and you have gum disease, the gum disease can make your diabetes worse! Gum disease makes it more difficult for you to maintain your correct blood sugar.

    So it's a two-way street - diabetes means you're more likely to have gum disease, and if your gum disease is bad enough it can make your diabetes hard to control. You can read more about this at Diabetes and Gum Disease.

    Here's a link about diabetes and gum disease at the Mayo Clinic website.

    If you're worried that you might have diabetes, and want to know more, read about the important signals at my Diabetes Type 2 information page.

  • Osteoperosis can be the result of a dental health issue
  • Osteoporosis. This is a condition where your bones become less dense, and weaker, as you get older.

    This means that the bone holding your teeth also gets thinner. But if you have gum disease as well as osteoporosis, the bone around your teeth shrinks much more quickly, resulting in loose teeth.

    But again, it seems to be a two-way street; if you have significant gum disease, it can make your osteoporosis worse.

  • Stroke. There are 2 types of stroke. Either a small blood vessel in your brain can burst or "haemorrhage", causing a build-up of pressure, OR a small blood vessel in your brain can get blocked by a small blood clot. This is called an ischaemic stroke.

    In both cases, a small part of your brain tissue dies. Research shows that people who have a stroke caused by a blood clot are also more likely to have gum disease. This seems to point to gum disease being one of the factors that can cause a stroke.

    The reason is basically the same as for heart disease - bacteria from your gums getting into the blood stream, settling out into deposits inside the blood vessels, and then a tiny clump or clot breaks off and is carried to the brain, where it blocks a small blood vessel and starves that part of your brain of oxygen.

There are also links between Nutrition and dental health. What you eat and drink affects your teeth and gums - no surprises there - but how healthy your teeth and gums are can also affect your diet, and how well the vitamens and minerals are absorbed.

Don't ignore the relationship between your nutrition and dental health!

The reason why dental health issues such as gum disease can affect your general health in several important areas boils down to the fact that if you have gum disease, you have a mass of bacteria there under the gum edges and between the teeth, causing inflammation.

Your body does not like inflammation, especially chronic long-standing inflammation.

This triggers all sorts of reactions and responses in your immune system. Your body is trying to flush out the bacteria. But it can't. YOU have to do that yourself. These dental health issues are entirely avoidable.

You can read about how to prevent all these problems at my How to cure gum disease page.

Your life might depend on it!