The Relationship Between Oral and Overall Health

If you ask the average person on the street what an orthodontist does, she or he will say that orthodontists straighten teeth. Which is partially true, but they do more than that. What is often overlooked are the actual goals of orthodontic treatment, meaning what are they actually trying to accomplish when they move teeth around.

The real goals of orthodontic treatment are two-fold.

Goal number one is to align the teeth and jaws in a way that enhances facial esthetics. This is important because 80 percent of feeling good is looking good, and a pleasing smile definitely makes us look good. Looking and feeling good translates to enhanced self-esteem and confidence, which gives us an advantage in social interactions. That advantage can mean better outcomes in life like higher paying jobs, better grades, more friends and better relationships.

Goal number two is to enhance overall oral health and in my opinion is equally important. Well-aligned teeth are easier to keep clean which translates to a reduced risk for decay and gum disease. The better the upper and lower teeth fit together (the occlusion or bite), the less likely will be the occurrence of excessive and uneven wear. Better alignment and bites also contributes to the overall oral health by fostering a balance between the jaw muscles, joints, bone, and roots of the teeth as well.

According to the article below posted on the Mayo Clinic website, we can go further with our discussion of the importance of well aligned teeth and jaws, and overall oral health. This interesting article discusses the relationship of oral health to our overall health—I don’t know about you, but after reading this article I immediately went looking for my floss.

Wishing you Health and Happiness,

Dr. Steve



Oral Health: A window to your overall health

Your oral health is more important than you may realize. Get the facts about how the health of your mouth, teeth and gums may affect your general health. By Mayo Clinic staff

Did you know that your oral health can offer clues about your overall health? Or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Understand the intimate connection between oral health and overall health and what you can do to protect yourself.


What’s the connection between oral health and overall health?

Your mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, harmful bacteria can sometimes grow out of control and cause oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease. In addition, dental procedures, medications, or treatments that reduce saliva flow, disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in your mouth or breach the mouth’s normal protective barriers may make it easier for bacteria to enter your bloodstream.


What conditions may be linked to oral health?

Your oral health may affect, be affected by or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:

  • Endocarditis. Gum disease and dental procedures that cut your gums may allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. If you have a weak immune system or a damaged heart valve, this can cause infection in other parts of the body — such as an infection of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis).

  • Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to oral bacteria, possibly due to chronic inflammation from periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease.

  • Pregnancy and birth. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

  • Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. In addition, people who have inadequate blood sugar control may develop more-frequent and severe infections of the gums and the bone that holds teeth in place, and they may lose more teeth than do people who have good blood sugar control.

  • HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.

  • Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — may be associated with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.

  • Alzheimer’s disease. Tooth loss before age 35 may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Other conditions. Other conditions that may be linked to oral health include Sjogren’s syndrome — an immune system disorder — and eating disorders.

    Be sure to tell your dentist if you’re taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health — especially if you’ve had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition.


How can I protect my oral health?

To protect your oral health, resolve to practice good oral hygiene every day. For example:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
  • Floss daily.
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups.

Also, watch for signs and symptoms of oral disease and contact your dentist as soon as a problem arises. Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

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