Oral health is more important than you might think. Any complications identified in your dental health can indicate your overall physical and psychological health.
A 2022 Global Oral Health Status Report by the World Health Organization revealed that about 3.5 billion people worldwide are affected by oral diseases.
Although they can be prevented, dental diseases pose a threat throughout life.
Common dental problems
According to Dr. Mitchell Milan, a dentist in Birmingham Michigan, at the Birmingham Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, “any condition that makes it difficult for an individual to bite, chew, speak, and comfortably smile is a dental problem”.
Common dental problems include:
- Chipped tooth
- Stained teeth
- Impacted teeth
- Cracked tooth
- Dry mouth
- Tooth loss
- Crooked teeth
- Gum (Periodontal) problems
- Oral cancer
- Sensitive teeth
- Root infection
- Enamel erosion
- Oro-dental trauma
- Cleft lip and palate
Ways poor dental health affects overall well-being
Some of the diseases and conditions affecting other body parts and linked to poor oral health include:
Bacteria in the mouth can get pulled into the lungs, causing pneumonia. Also, a 2015 study discovered that oral hygiene could reduce the number of fragile adults who die as a result of aspiration pneumonia.
Poor oral hygiene has been linked with bacteremia. This refers to the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream.
Such bacteria could cause endocarditis, a life-threatening inflammation of the inner lining of the heart’s chambers and valves due to the attachment of bacteria to certain areas in the heart.
3. Cardiovascular disease
Scientific research has linked periodontal disease to increased cardiovascular disease mortality.
Periodontal diseases are caused by infections and inflammation of the gums.
Some researchers have also suggested that bacteria from the mouth could cause clogged arteries. This can result in heart attack and stroke.
4. Pregnancy and birth complications
Bad oral health can cause different pregnancy and birth complications including:
- Premature delivery
- Pregnancy tumors
- Low birth weight baby
- Pregnancy granuloma
A bacterium, porphyromonas gingivalis, which can cause periodontal disease, has been associated with cancer.
Poor dental hygiene has also been linked with oral cancer, including oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC).
6. Poor nutrition
Tooth loss caused by untreated cavities and gum disease might impact the ability to eat certain nutritious foods like meats, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
This can result in poor nutrition which has been linked to diseases such as type 2 diabetes, stroke, and cancer.
Meanwhile, some diseases and conditions could result in oral health complications.
High sugar levels in the blood cause diabetes. It is usually the same in the mouth. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar. Once there is food, then their survival and proliferation are unavoidable.
They may cause gum disease, tooth decay and cavities.
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with loss of memory. As the condition worsens, the person may forget how or when to brush.
The person may also not remember the faces of friends and family; hence resist any assistance from them. Over time, oral health will deteriorate, leading to different complications.
Bones are living tissues constantly breaking down and replenishing. When the body cannot create enough tissue to replace the depleted born, the result is osteoporosis.
This can affect the jawbone, which in turn could cause tooth loss.
People suffering from HIV/AIDS often have a weakened immune system. This makes them prone to various oral health complications at different stages of the disease.
During the acute stage of HIV, the person may suffer mouth ulcers. Infected persons usually experience dry mouth, which increases the risk of tooth decay.
Patients may also develop oral herpes.
Binge eaters are likely to expose their mouths to different food chemicals. This may cause dental erosion.
Dental erosion is when part of the teeth is dissolved by acid.
Likewise, people who limit what they eat probably out of fear of gaining weight might miss essential nutrients required for oral health.
For instance, vitamin D is essential for healthy teeth and gums.
Rheumatoid arthritis can directly cause oral complications. Indirectly, treatment of the condition can also result in problems with the mouth.
Some common dental issues associated with rheumatoid arthritis include gingivitis, painful closing and opening of the mouth, and periodontitis.
Organ transplants can complicate oral health conditions. A 2020 study discovered that over half of the liver transplant recipients had poor oral hygiene.
The discovery made scientists clamor for removing any potential sources of oral infection before transplant to reduce complications afterwards.
Cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy, can cause oral complications such as impaired taste, mouth ulcers, salivary gland dysfunction, infections and dry mouth.