Woman with lips photo over her mouth
Aging Well

What Your Mouth Has to Do With Your Overall Wellbeing

Would you floss more often if you knew it could prevent erectile dysfunction?  Would you brush your teeth better if it reduced your chances of a terrible disease like cancer or heart disease?  What goes on inside your mouth has a direct impact to what goes on in the rest of your body.

Dr. Susan Maples, author of Blabber Mouth! 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You To Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life, who was named one of the top eight innovators in U.S. dentistry, says the mouth holds all kinds of secrets not just about your teeth and gums, but about your overall health, too.

“New evidence is popping up every day that your mouth can reveal early signs of disease in your body, everything from heart disease and diabetes to mental health illnesses, pregnancy complications, erectile dysfunction and more” Maples says.  “The dental practice of the future is here today, and visiting your dentist is important for healthy teeth and gums, but just as important to your overall health.”

A few ways that bad oral health can cause more serious problems:

Heart disease: Periodontal disease can cause inflammation in the artery walls. Traveling bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and form as plaque in the arteries. There’s even a link between tooth decay and heart attacks. Make sure your dentist offers an Interleukin-1 saliva test that can help identify your risk for both coronary artery disease and periodontal disease.

Cancer: We’re not just talking about oral cancer, but all forms of it from lung cancer to pancreatic cancer. In a healthy mouth, billions of bacteria live and play happily together in a large community. But in the right environment where oral hygiene isn’t up to par, bad bacteria can takeover and produce infection and inflammation that can spread to other parts of the body.

Stroke: Achieving and maintaining healthy teeth and gums may be as important in reducing your risk of stroke as having good cholesterol.  To avoid oral bacteria as a cause of stroke, aggressively treat any active gum disease. A number of studies show a link between missing teeth and stroke.

Diabetes: If you have diabetes, controlling your blood sugar greatly reduces the risk and severity of gum disease. And if you have gum disease, controlling it greatly reduces the risk and severity of diabetes.  Your dentist should offer an A1c finger stick blood test and evaluation if you are concerned or believe you are at an increased risk.

Respiratory disease: Respiratory infections commonly occur when secretions from the mouth and throat get sucked into the lungs. These secretions contain microorganisms, like bacteria and viruses, which can lead to COPD or pneumonia. Keeping your mouth free of oral infection can reduce your risk of illness and death from lung disease.


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