Dental & Oral Health

Oral Health: A Reflection of Overall Health

Written by Dr. Akhil K Padmanabhan and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Image: Oral Health: A Reflection of Overall Health

Shiny white teeth and healthy gums improve your esthetics, and in turn, your confidence. A majority of the population visit the dentist primarily for two reasons - to improve esthetics or to fix an annoying toothache. Unless our problems become symptomatic, we avoid going to a doctor or a dentist. An ulcer of the mouth is often self-treated and is believed to be due to a deficiency. While this is true, a lot of other systemic health issues always manifest in the mouth first. Yes, oral health is a reflection of your overall health.

Studies have been conducted for a long time, to establish the relationship between oral health and systemic health. Currently, in literature, plenty of evidence is available to substantiate this connection.

The shape of your tooth may give a clue about your character and gender, while the color of your gums may indicate your overall complexion. The oral cavity carries more than 500 microorganisms. Among them, a few are good and a few are bad. The good ones called the commensals, help you digest the food you eat and also aid in the defense mechanism. The bad ones are usually called pathogens. They may cause a disease or may be present because you already have an infection. The most common being an infection of the gums or gingivitis. This may further lead to periodontitis.

Periodontal medicine is an area of dentistry which studies the connection between systemic health and diseases of the periodontium (supporting structures of the teeth). The bacteria in the oral cavity are capable of traveling into your systemic circulation via blood, which could cause fatal diseases like bacterial endocarditis. Periodontitis is also seen to cause preterm labor, heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke.

Conversely, certain systemic disorders may worsen your oral health. These include immune-related diseases like HIV and AIDS, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, etc. Other conditions that may be associated with the deterioration of oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, head and neck cancers, and Sjogren's syndrome - an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth.

Hence protecting your oral health is as important as protecting your general health. Maintaining good oral hygiene significantly improves your quality of life.

  • You can achieve this by doing the following:
  1. Brush your teeth twice daily.
  2. Floss every day.
  3. Eat healthy foods and limit between-meal snacking.
  4. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner, if the bristles are frayed.
  5. Schedule regular dental checkups and scaling.
  6. Avoid smoking and tobacco use.
  7. Never ignore any lesions or patches you notice in your mouth.

For more information consult a dentist online -->

Last reviewed at: 15.Sep.2018



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