Oral health is an integral part of overall wellbeing and neglecting it can have a serious adverse effects on other organs of your body. According to the World Health Organisation, “Oral diseases encompass a range of diseases and conditions that include dental caries, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, oro-dental trauma, noma and birth defects such as cleft lip and palate. Oral diseases are among the most common noncommunicable diseases worldwide, affecting an estimated 3.5 billion people.” Hence, it is important to create awareness and stress on the importance of good oral health.
That bad oral health can cause cardiovascular, respiratory diseases, diabetes and also cancer is well known. But did you know that it can also cause mental health problems? We reached out to Lt Gen Dr Vimal Arora, Chief Clinical Officer, Clove Dental Care, to get a better understanding of the subject. Here’s what he has to say.
How does not taking care of oral health lead to fatal diseases?
Neglecting oral health can lead to the buildup of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental problems. However, these oral health issues can also have wider health implications beyond the mouth. Not taking proper care of oral health can lead to the following:
Cardiovascular disease: Some studies have found that oral bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, such as atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart blockage, eventually leading to a heart attack.
Respiratory infections: Inadequate oral hygiene can negatively affect the respiratory system. The presence of bacteria in the mouth due to inflamed gums and decayed teeth can enter the lungs through inhalation or the bloodstream. Consequently, these bacteria can cause respiratory infections, pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Diabetes: People with diabetes are more prone to gum disease, and untreated gum disease can make it harder to control blood sugar levels.
Oral cancer: Poor oral hygiene can increase the risk of oral cancer, particularly in smokers and heavy drinkers.
One’s mental health is correlated to oral Health. How true is this statement?
Studies have shown that people with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress may be more likely to have poor oral health, such as gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss. This may be due to several factors, including medication side effects, poor oral hygiene, unhealthy dietary habits, and neglect of dental care due to a lack of motivation or resources.
Conversely, poor oral health can also have adverse effects on mental health. For example, dental pain, tooth loss, and embarrassment about the appearance of one’s teeth can lead to anxiety, depression, and social isolation.
It’s important to note that correlation does not necessarily imply causation, and other factors may contribute to the relationship between mental health and oral health. Additionally, it’s important to address mental and oral health concerns separately and holistically, as they are both essential components of overall health and well-being.
How often should a person visit dentists to keep their oral health in check?
It is generally recommended that a person should visit the dentist for a check-up and scaling every six months. However, the frequency of dental visits may vary depending on an individual’s oral health needs and risk factors for oral diseases.
For example, people with a history of gum disease or other oral health issues may need to see their dentist more frequently, such as every three to four months. On the other hand, individuals with good oral health and a low risk of developing dental problems may only need to see their dentist once a year.
It is essential to discuss with your dentist what frequency of dental visits is appropriate for your specific needs and oral health goals. Your dentist can provide personalized recommendations based on age, overall health, and lifestyle habits.
Does oral health improve with mental health?
There is a growing body of research suggesting that there is a strong relationship between oral health and mental health. Studies have found that individuals with poor mental health are more likely to have bad oral Health and vice versa.
For example, individuals with depression, anxiety, and stress are more likely to have periodontal disease, tooth decay, and other oral health problems. This may be due to several factors, such as poor oral hygiene, unhealthy lifestyle habits, medications, neglect of dental care due to lack of motivation, or other mental health-related reasons.
Conversely, improving mental health can lead to better oral health outcomes. For instance, stress management and relaxation techniques have decreased the risk of periodontal disease and improved oral Health. Additionally, seeking professional help for mental health issues can help individuals overcome barriers to dental care and maintain better oral hygiene habits.
Therefore, it is essential to recognize the connection between mental and oral health and take steps to address both for overall health and well-being.
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