World Health Day is observed every year on April 7th by all member states of the World Health Organization. This is a day that aims to raise awareness about the health issues that are prevalent around the globe. The World Health Organization aids people internationally, helping them to maintain good overall health by providing treatments and fighting the future spread of disease.
So, what can you do in your own life to improve your health and fight future problems? Many people don’t realize it, but the best place to start when trying to maintain optimal health is your mouth. Your oral health can have an effect on many other areas of your health and is something you can attend to daily to constantly maintain and improve your well-being.
The Initial Effects of Bacteria. Your mouth is a warm, wet, and protected space for bacteria to grow and thrive. Bacteria in the mouth collects around the gum line and irritates the gums over time. Brushing and flossing regularly, as well as frequent dental cleanings help to remove bacteria and plaque, keeping it under control.
When the growth of bacteria gets out of the control, it results in harmful plaque buildup that causes gum disease. Many people have some degree of gum disease, ranging from mild gingivitis to advanced periodontal disease. Left untreated, this can lead to gum recession, bacteria in the bloodstream, and tooth loss.
The Immune System and the Heart. Once bacteria in the mouth makes its way into the bloodstream, it can start to cause a host of other more serious health issues. Bacteria in the blood triggers a huge immune system reaction, signalling the liver to release C-reactive protein (CRP). If CRP is being released continuously over a long period of time, it has serious negative effects on the body.
High levels of CRP cause the stiffening of arteries and have been linked to heart disease, heart attacks, and high blood pressure. Because of this domino effect, keeping your mouth clean and your gums healthy directly affects your heart health.
Making Matters Worse. Gingivitis and periodontal disease can also cause pre-existing conditions to worsen. Bacteria in the mouth can make its way to the lungs and intensify conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. It’s also been shown that those with poor oral health are at a much higher risk of lung cancer—even if they don’t smoke.
For patients with diabetes, a vicious cycle can start to occur. Diabetes weakens the immune system, making it harder for the body to repair itself. In regards to gum disease, this can cause effects such as damage to gums and tooth loss to happen at a faster rate. These problems in turn allow more bacteria into the bloodstream, putting yet another stressor on the immune system.
Pregnancy and Oral Health. It’s imperative that pregnant women pay special attention to their oral health. The usual dangerous effects of excessive bacteria and plaque buildup in the mouth can cross the placenta, affecting the unborn baby as well. Poor oral health during pregnancy has been linked to preterm births and low birth weight, which can be very serious for the long-term health of the child. Because of these concerns, regular trips to the dentist are recommended for women who are expecting.
The Keys to Prevention. The good news is that oral health and overall health can be vastly improved by following just a few simple guidelines. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children and adults alike brush with flouride toothpaste for two minutes twice a day and floss between their teeth at least once a day. Sticking to this regimen reduces the risk of excessive bacteria and plaque.
It’s also important to visit your dentist for a thorough cleaning and check up once every six months. This may seem like a lot, but considering the effects your oral health can have on the rest of the body, your dentist might be the first to recognize a potentially more serious issue before it gets out of hand.
This April 7th, remember to focus on your health by keeping your mouth clean and healthy. It makes a world of difference!