Did you know that gum disease and other oral health problems can affect your overall health? Understanding the links between your overall health and gum disease can help you protect your mind, body and spirit.

If you live in the Virginia Beach area, your Virginia Beach dentist can help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Bacteria

Your mouth, like many areas of your body, is full of bacteria; most of them are harmless. Your body’s natural defenses keep the bacteria under control. Without a proper daily brushing and flossing regimen, however, bacteria levels can rise to the point where oral infection, such as gum disease and tooth decay, can develop.

Certain medications can also raise bacteria levels. Antihistamines, painkillers, decongestants and diuretics can reduce saliva flow. Saliva is important because it washes away foods and neutralizes acids that produce oral bacteria, which helps protect you against microbial invasion that may lead to disease.

Recent studies suggest there is a link between periodontitis (a severe form of gum disease and inflammation) and certain other diseases. In addition, some diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes, can make the body less resistant to infection, which in turn worsens oral health problems.

It’s like a community with only one firehouse that is expected to fight several fires simultaneously in different locations.

Gum disease and oral health can affect, or be affected by, various conditions and diseases, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease: Some studies suggest a link between oral bacterial infection and heart health. Heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries can all be affected by your oral health.
  • Endocarditis: This is an infection of the heart’s inner lining (endocardium). The disease typically occurs when germs and bacteria from other parts of the body, such as your mouth, enter your bloodstream and attach to areas of your heart.
  • Pregnancy and birth: Low birth weight and premature birth have been linked to periodontitis.
  • Diabetes: This condition alters your body’s ability to deal with infection – putting your gums at risk. Gum disease seems to be more prevalent among those who suffer from diabetes. Studies also show that diabetics who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Studies have linked Alzheimer’s with tooth loss before age 35.
  • Osteoporosis: This causes bones to become brittle and weak, which may be linked to tooth and periodontal bone loss.
  • HIV/AIDS: Mucosal lesions, a painful oral condition, are more prevalent in those with HIV/AIDS.

It’s important to talk to your Virginia Beach dentist if you’re taking any medications or have experienced changes regarding your overall health.

Protecting your oral health

Fortunately, it’s simple to be proactive in caring for your oral health.

  • Brush your teeth; once a day is a necessity but twice a day is better
  • Floss, preferably after every meal
  • Eat healthy; consume plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Replace your toothbrush every two to three months; sooner if the bristles become frayed
  • Visit your Virginia Beach dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and check-up

Caring for your teeth and gums will not only give you a healthy mouth but also a healthy body. Think of it as an investment in your overall health.

Retanio Dentistry can take care of all  your oral health needs.  Call us at (757) 424-0184 or fill out a Contact Form.