Top health risks among Americans, connected to oral health

Do you ever have those days when you feel like a well-oiled machine – healthy and moving at your best possible speed? And then there are the days when one part feels less than optimal, even halting to a painful grind. It’s true: Your body is a connected machine, and when it comes to keeping your overall health in check, the answer may lie closer to the mouth. Here are some of the top health risks and diseases faced by many Americans. Even though they may surface in other parts of the body, their clues may be linked to oral-health issues. Diabetes Surprisingly, your dentist may be the go-to medical professional when it comes to diagnosing diabetes. That’s because side effects of high glucose levels, which can indicate diabetes, can cause problems with your teeth and gums. Diabetics also are more susceptible to sore or loose teeth, fungal mouth infections, mouth ulcers, cavities and dry mouth. Heart Disease Although researchers aren’t sure why, a link does exist between periodontal disease and heart disease. One theory: Oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream then attach to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries and eventually, contribute to clot formation. Blood clots obstruct normal blood flow, eventually leading to a heart attack.1 Stroke The answer is still out as to how periodontal disease can cause strokes. But in one study, people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were more likely to have an oral infection.1 Lifestyle This is the one that’s totally up to us, and perhaps the hardest for us to control. Of course, it’s no surprise by now that healthy living contributes to healthy teeth and gums, which in turn helps maintain a healthy body. So, avoid smoking, get regular exercise, eat healthy, limit snacks and maintain a healthy weight. Oral health and overall health are closely related. Do your best to take care of both, and you may find yourself smiling for more reasons than one.

1 American Academy of Periodontology, Gum Disease Links to Heart Disease and Stroke, 2011.


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