True or false: The condition of your mouth can say quite a bit about your overall health?

Answer: True!

How is this possible? Just like most other parts of your body, your mouth contains bacteria. Millions, in fact. But the mere existence of bacteria in the mouth isn’t a problem… actually, it is a good thing. The problem is that when you aren’t in the best health, the types of bacteria in your mouth can become unbalanced. This can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral infections. Conditions that affect your dental health include:

  • Diabetes. This condition reduces your body’s ability to fight infections, which puts your overall health – including your dental health – at risk.
  • HIV/AIDS. People with uncontrolled HIV/AIDS can often get painful mucosal lesions in their mouth.
  • Osteoporosis. If you have osteoporosis, your bones loose density and weaken as they loose Calcium, this includes the bone that supports your teeth. You have a greater risk of loosing teeth through gum disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. People suffering from Alzheimer’s tend to have progressively poorer dental health, this is due to not remembering to clean properly,  or loosing the desire or capability to brush and floss.

Sometimes, issues in your mouth are not necessarily caused by overall poor health. For example, taking some blood pressure medications or antidepressants for mental health can affect the body’s production of saliva causing dry mouth (Xerostomia), Saliva fights bacteria, so its lack causes  loss of ability to keep the levels of bacteria in the mouth in check, resulting in oral health issues.

It also works the other way too. Not taking care of your dental health can lead to issues in other areas of your body. Prime examples include:

  • Endocarditis. This is an infection of the inner lining of your heart. This can happen when bacteria from one part of your body, such as your mouth, get in your bloodstream and latch onto any damaged areas of your heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Growing evidence suggests that problem bacteria in your mouth could be linked to clogged arteries, heart disease, and increased risk for stroke.
  • Pregnancy and birth. Poor oral health and gum disease can be factors involved in premature birth and a low birth weight.

Obviously, making an appointment to see your doctor is important for your overall health. But don’t forget regular visits to your dentist either! They know what to look for regarding your dental health, which can offer telling glimpses into your general well-being.