How Does Oral Health Affect The Rest Of The Body?
Because your mouth is full of bacteria, both harmless and malicious, at all times, the health of the rest of your body is affected by your oral health. Your oral health, in turn, is affected by health issues from diseases and disorders that inhibit your immune system and its ability to fight bacterial infections.
While maintaining good oral health is important for everyone, it is especially important for those who are most vulnerable to infection because of compromised overall health from specific diseases and disorders.
Diseases that may affect affect oral health
Although a diabetic diet limits the intake of sugars and other carbohydrates, which are used by bacteria in the mouth to create plaque and tartar, diabetes itself has negative effects on oral health.
This is because diabetes weakens the immune system and its ability to fight infection and kill bacteria. Diabetics are then more likely than the general population to suffer from poor oral health, including a higher risk of gum disease.
Gum disease is a major contributor to tooth and bone loss, so diabetics must be especially vigilant in maintaining good oral hygiene.
Diseases that directly suppress the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, can both inhibit the body's ability to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth and lower its defenses against the spread of infections from oral problems such as gum disease.
Bacteria from oral infections can spread through inhalation into the lungs, which may cause pneumonia, or absorption into the bloodstream through diseased gums, which can cause secondary infections to form throughout the body.
Treatment of some diseases may also contribute to a lowered ability to fight oral infections. Autoimmune disorders such as Lupus or Crohn's Disease, in which the body's immune system is reprogrammed to attack the body instead of fighting foreign agents inside the body, are often treated with steroids.
Steroids suppress the immune system, which inhibits the symptoms of these disorders. However, suppression of the immune system can also contribute to oral infections as the body's ability to fight infections is diminished.
Because the focus of these illnesses tends to be directed to their effect on overall health, their effect on oral health is not emphasized when treatment is considered. Yet their effect on oral health can contribute to a decline in overall health,.
This can occur both in the spread of infections that originate in the mouth, and also from the effects of gum disease and subsequent tooth loss and dental pain, which inhibit the ability and desire to eat when proper nutrition is most important. Proper oral hygiene should be one of the primary treatment mandates and preventative measures for these illnesses.