Dr. Choudhury’s note: This article was originally published on 04/13/2012 on our old website.  It has been updated to include new content.

Bad Teeth And Gums Are Related To Other Diseases

Most of us know that a mouthful of healthy teeth, tissue and gums can be indicative of good overall health. We know, for example, that there is a bacterial component that links our oral health with the overall condition of our bodies.

Even under the best of circumstances, our mouths remain a bacteria factory, but when properly monitored, most of these bacteria are harmless. And they remain harmless as long as our body’s natural defenses are in good repair, and as long as we heed the warnings of our dentist.

You know what we’re talking about: We’re constantly nagging our patients to brush and floss and watch the sugar intake in our diets. It’s what we do best. And good oral care is what helps keep those bacteria reined in and harmless.

Things start to go bad fast when conditions change. Your oral health can be affected by a variety of physical conditions, ailments and diseases. The opposite is also true: Your physical well being can be affected by the condition of your mouth — your oral health.

For instance, heart disease – including clogged arteries and strokes – are linked to poor oral health. A severe case of gum disease, for example, might actually spark such heart troubles. And if you have heart problems to begin with, gum disease might allow bad bacteria to enter the rest of your body, contributing to a very bad infection or maybe even worse.

Diabetes is a disease that can put your teeth at risk. The disease reduces the body’s ability to fight infection, thus threatening the gums and the bones that hold teeth in place. And, of course, osteoporosis already causes bones to become weak, contributing to dental problems and tooth loss.

The best prescription for good dental health is to follow the advice of your dentist:

  • Besides vigilant brushing and flossing, be sure to replace your toothbrush every few months.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups at least twice a year — and keep those appointments.
  • Keep a close eye on what you eat, avoiding sweets and an abundance of foods containing acids.
  • Consume antioxidants such as green tea, pomegranates, blueberries and raw cranberries.
  • Stay in tune with what’s going on in your mouth.
  • If you have a pain or display signs of oral disease, contact your dentist immediately.

Maintaining a healthy smile is every bit as important as maintaining your overall health. There’s really no difference between the two.